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Eilmoiiston Studio, 
Washington, D. C. 

Robert M. La Follette 

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The Political Philosophy 



As Revealed in his Speeches and Writings. 

Compiled by 


Assisted by Albert 0. Barton and Fred L. Holmes. 

In the Valley of Decision, 

Down the Road of Things-that-are, 

You gave to us a vision, 

You appointed us a star 

And through Cities of Derision 

We followed you from far. 

On the Hills beyond Tomorrow, 

On the Road of Things-to-do, 

With that strength of hand we borrow 

As we porrow soul from you. 

We know not sloth nor sorrow 

And will buUd your vision true. 

William Ellery Leonard. 

MADISON, wis. 

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Copyright, 1920, by 

Robert M. La Follette Co. 

July, 1920 

/ I '6^ I 

' I 1^ "f^ 

Blied printing company. Madison, wis. 

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The Inspiration of a Life 

There is looming up a new and dark power. I cannot 
dwell upon the signs and shocking omens of its advent. 
The accumulation of individual wealth seems to be greater 
than it ever has been since the downfall of the Roman 
Empire. The enterprises of the country are aggregating 
vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly 
marching, not for economic conquests only, but for politi- 
cal power. For the first time really in our politics money 
is taking the field as an organized power. * * * Already, 
here at home, one great corporation has trifled with the 
sovereign power, and insulted the state. There is grave 
fear that it, and its great rival, have confederated to make 
partition of the state and share it as spoils. * * * The 
question will arise, and arise in your day, though perhaps 
not fully in mine, "Which shall rule — wealth or man; 
which shall lead — money or intellect; who shall fill public 
stations — educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal 
serfs of corporate capital?" 

Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan, Speech to 
Graduating Class, Wisconsin Law School, 1873. 

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I. Representative Government 13 

II. Primary Elections 27 

III. Political Machine and the Bosses. 53 

IV. Taxation 61 

V. Railroad Regulation and Govern- 
ment Ownership 72 

VI. Trusts and Monopolies 104 

VII. Labor and its Rights 129 

VIII. Big Business and Government 148 

IX. The Tariff 160 

X. Money and Banking 166 

XL Initiative^ Referendum and Recall. 173 

XII. Federal Judges and Injunctions. . . 179 

XIII. The Progressive Movement 182 

XIV. Militarism 190 

XV. War 200 

XVI. Draft and Conscription 215 

XVII. War Taxes and Profiteering 220 

XVIII. Freedom of Speech and Press 231 

XIX. The Peace Treaty and the League 

of Nations 251 

XX. International Relations 270 

XXL The American Soldier 275 

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8 Contents 

XXII. Agriculture and Co-operation 280 

XXIII. Education and Public Service ..... 289 

XXIV. Economic Problems 314 

XXV. Conservation 325 

XXVI. Equal Suffrage 338 

XXVII. The Press and the Public 345 

XXVIII. Miscellaneous 3I0 

Appendix 380 

Index 421 

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HE moral issues before the people of 
this country at the present time are 
more momentous than at any other 
period since the foundation of the gov- 

The Civil War solved the problem of secession 
and resulted in the emancipation of three million 
slaves. Today, violations of the Constitution are 
more flagrant and more dangerous to our institu- 
tions than was the attempt at secession, and the 
liberty of a hundred million people, white as well 
as black, is in jeopardy. The assurance that a 
higher and nobler democracy would be a result of 
the Great War has been found to be a mockery, the 
reverse of democracy being realized in a reign of 
terror and oppression. Public disillusionment has 
been followed by doubt and indecision, and men and 
women are reaching out for the guidance of a po- 
litical philosophy which is founded on principles of 
truth and justice and competent to meet the needs 
of the times. 

It is the purpose of this book to indicate where 
such a philosophy may be found and to present it 
in epitome. To the many busy men and women who 
cannot spare the time to read the entire articles or 
addresses, it will prove a valuable compendium. 
For the student or social worker it may serve as an 
inspiration to a more extended study of the subject. 
The citizen who wishes to understand the progres- 
sive movement in order that he may use his suf- 

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lo La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

frage more intelligently will find much to ponder 
over in these pages. To those who are familiar 
with the clear, simple, and forceful style of the 
author, nothing needs to be said in commendation 
or amplification. For those to whom this book may 
be an introduction we predict great interest and 
pleasure in further acquaintance with the man and 
his work. 

Robert M. La Follette has led the progressive 
movement in this country during the last thirty 
years. Its development may be said to be co-inci- 
dent with his public career. He was the first to 
secure progressive legislation, and the political 
structure which was reared in Wisconsin as a re- 
sult of his self-sacrifice and devotion, was so well 
founded on sound economic principles that it has 
withstood the attacks of its enemies, the support- 
ers of corrupt machine and corporation rule. 

La Follette's position as the pioneer of the pro- 
gressive movement was secure long before 1912, 
but in that year his leadership was strikingly ac- 
knowledged by Bryan, Wilson, and even by Roose- 
velt, prior to the latter's candidacy for a third pres- 
idential term. 

To Bryan, La Follette was the "prince of pro- 
gressives." Roosevelt wrote of La Follette's five 
years as governor: 

"Thanks to the movement for genuinely demo- 
cratic government which Senator La Follette led to 
overwhelming victory in Wisconsin, that state has 
become literally a laboratory for wise experimental 
legislation, aiming to secure the social and political 
betterment of the people as a whole." 

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Foreword ii 

It remained for Woodrow Wilson to pay the 
most fulsome tribute to La Follette, in a speech at 
Wilmington, Del., in October, 1912: 

"Now there arose in Wisconsin that indomitable 
little figure of Bob La Follette. I tell you ladies 
and gentlemen, I take off my cap to Bob La Follette. 
He has never taken his eye for a single moment 
from the goal he set out to reach. He has walked 
a straight line to it in spite of every temptation to 
turn aside. * * I have sometimes thought of Sen- 
ator La Follette climbing the mountain of privilege 
* * taunted, laughed at, called back, going stead- 
fastly on and not allowing himself to be deflected 
for a single moment, for fear he also should hearken 
and lose all his power to serve the great interests 
to which he had devoted himself. I love these 
lonely figures climbing this ugly mountain of priv- 
ilege. But they are not so lonely now. I am sorry 
for my own part that I did not come in when they 
were fewer. There was no credit to come in when 
I came in. The whole nation had awakened." 

Since 1912 Senator La Follette has seen the pro- 
gressive principles he sponsored swept aside in the 
unchecked growth of monopoly. He has seen mo- 
nopoly control of industry and government bring 
increased living costs and encroachments on indi- 
vidual liberty: the evils against which he warned 
the people. The war gave La Follette's foes their 
opportunity to attempt his destruction, but the logic of 
his principles could not be destroyed and today, erect, 
unyielding, La Follette stands on the ground the 
other leaders have abandoned, still fighting for the 

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12 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

old principles, with the confidence of the people 
ill his progressive leadership unshaken. 

Throughout this book the reader will be im- 
pressed, not only with the unusual mental ppwer 
and vision of the man, but with the moral elevation 
of his spirit. He views problems of state as well 
as problems of the individual in the clear, white 
light of ethics, and no compromise with expediency 
is permitted in any case. It is this which gives his 
work high and permanent value. It is in line with 
social evolution. 

The excerpts vary in length, but each expresses 
concisely a principle of government, a political 
method to be followed, or calls attention to unjust 
or harmful conditions which need to be remedied. 
For convenience, reference is made to the article 
or discourse from which each is taken so that the 
original may be consulted at leisure. 

In the compilation of this work I have been assisted 
by Albert O. Barton, a former secretary of Senator 
La Follette, and Fred L. Holmes, managing editor of 
La Follette's Magazine. 

The work of compilation and classification has 
been a pleasure which is surrendered with regret 
since additional material of surpassing interest is 
continually being made available. 

Ellen Torelle. 

Madison, Wis., 
July 15, 1920. 

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Democracy is a Life 

E have long rested comfortably in this 
country upon the assumption that be- 
cause our form of government was 
democratic, it was therefore automat- 
ically producing democratic results. 
Now, there is nothing mysteriously potent about 
the forms and names of democratic institutions that 
should make them self-operative. Tyranny and op- 
pression are just as possible under democratic forms 
as under any other. We are slow to realize that 
democracy is a life and involves continual struggle. 
It is only as those of every generation who love 
democracy resist with all their might the encroach- 
ments of its enemies that the ideals of representa- 
tive government can even be nearly approximated. 
Introduction to Autobiography, 1913. 

Political Parties 

Political parties are not organized or maintained 
upon the personality or strength of individuals, but 
around certain deep-seated ideas which lay hold of 
the convictions of men. These ideas when formulated 
and proclaimed become the party's declaration of prin- 
ciples,%s promise to perform. This declaration of 
principles, this promise to perform, is of the highest 
importance to each citizen. When so proclaimed it 
enables him to determine his party affiliation. He 

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14 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

well understands that one political party or another 
will control government, will make and administer 
the laws. Hence, he gives his support to that party 
which promises to do the specific things that he re- 
gards of the highest importance to the state and to the 
welfare of every citizen. The party promise, there- 
fore, is a covenant with the voter upon which he has 
staked his faith and his interests. He has given his 
support ; he has invested the party with his authority ; 
he has made it possible for the party to control in 
government. Upon its promise and his support the 
party has become the custodian of his political rights 
as a citizen, of his property right as a man. 

But the party obligation goes still further. The ob- 
ligation of the party is made the more binding because 
it has sought out the citizen, urged acceptance of its 
pledges, pressed them upon his consideration, pro- 
claimed again and again its purpose to keep them in 
letter and spirit. It has made the citizen its solicitor 
and secured his good offices to repeat its promises, 
proclaim its principles, and enlist in its ranks his neigh- 
bors and friends. Having received his vote, his in- 
fluence, his devotion, the party is bound to keep its 
pledged word. This is its title to confidence. This 
measures its value as a power for good in representa- 
tive government. 

Every established practice and custom which tends 
to impair in any degree the citizen's right of suffrage 
subverts the principles of representative government 
and undermines the foundations of democracy. 

It is a plain proposition that the right of suffrage is 
much broader and more comprehensive than the mere 

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Representative Government 15 

physical act of casting the ballot without interference, 
and having it returned, as cast, without fraud. All 
of the guarantees of the constitution, all of the acts of 
legislation, are designed to secure and record the will 
of the citizen; to make it certain that, untrammeled 
and uninterrupted, the influence of his judgment may 
be felt in matters pertaining to government. If this 
be the real substance of the right of suffrage, then it 
becomes an equally sacred obligation on the part of 
the lawmaking power to so safeguard every step and 
proceeding which constitutes any element of the right 
of suffrage that the citizen shall be protected with 
respect to it. 

Through the succession of generations human na- 
ture is the same, and when De Tocqueville declared 
that "the most powerful, and perhaps the only, means 
of interesting men in the welfare of the country is to 
make them partakers in the government," he uttered a 
truth which applies quite as forcibly to the primary 
step in suffrage, as to the secondary step in suffrage, — 
to the nomination of candidates as to their election 
after nomination. And the interest and influence of 
the voter can be as well and as certainly secured in 
the one as in the other, if the same means are taken 
to guarantee to him the same certainty of result re- 
specting the one as the other. 

Message to Legislature, 1903. 

Right to Equal Voice 

It is a fundamental principle of this republic that 

each citizen shall have equal voice in government. 

This is recognized and guaranteed to him through 

the ballot. In a representative democracy, where a 

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1 6 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

citizen cannot act for himself for any reason, he 
must delegate his authority to the public official 
who acts for him. Since government, with us, is 
conducted by the representatives of some political 
party, the citizen's voice in making and administer- 
ing the laws is expressed through his party ballot. 
Hence, to preserve his sovereign right to an equal 
share in government he must be assured an equal 
voice in making his party ballot. This privilege 
is vital. This is the initial point of all administra- 
tion. It is here government begins, and if there 
be failure here, there will be failure throughout. 
Control lost at this point is never regained; rights 
surrendered here are never restored. As the foun- 
dation is laid, so will the structure be reared. The 
naming of the men upon the party ticket is the 
naming of the men who will make and enforce the 
laws. It not only settles the policy of the party, 
it determines the character of the government. 

• Inaugural Message, 1901. 

I do not believe that it lies in the power of any one 
man or group of men successfully to proclaim the 
creation of a new political party, and give it life, 
and being, and achievement, and perpetuity. New 
parties are brought forth from time to time, and 
groups of men have come forward as their heralds 
and have been called to leadership and command. 
But the leaders did not create the party. It was the 
ripe issue of events. It came out of the womb of 
time, and no man could hinder or hasten the event. 
No one can foretell the coming of the hour. It 
may be near at hand. It may be otherwise. But if 

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Representative Government 17 

it should come quickly, we may be sure strong lead- 
ership will be there; and some will say that the 
leaders made the party. But all great movements 
in society and government, the world over, are the 
result of growth. Progress may seem to halt; we 
may even seem to lose ground, biit it is my deep 
conviction that it is our duty to do, day by day, 
with all our might, as best we can for the good of 
our country the task which lies nearest at hand. 
The party does not consist of a few leaders or of a 
controlling political machine ; it consists of the hun- 
dreds of thousands of citizens drawn together by a 
common belief in certain principles. 

A political party is not made to order. It is the 
slow development of powerful forces working in 
our social life. Sound ideas seize upon the human 
mind. Opinions ripen into fixed convictions. 
Masses of men are drawn together by common 
belief and organized about clearly defined princi- 
ples. From time to time this organized body ex- 
presses its purpose and names candidates to rep- 
resent its principles. The millions cannot be assem- 
bled. Until direct nominations and the rigid control 
of campaign expenditures shall prevail they must 
seek to express their will through the imperfect 
agencies of congressional, state, and national con- 
ventions. These agencies are not the party. They 
are temporarily delegated to represent the millions 
who constitute the party. If recreant to their trust 
the party may suffer the temporary defeat of its 

Autobiography, 1913. 

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i8 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Platform Pledges 

Mr. President, a platform promise is a covenant 
with the voter, upon which he stakes his faith and 
his interests. He gives the party his support; he 
invests it with his authority; he makes it possible 
for the party to control in government. The obli- 
gation of the party is made the more binding be- 
cause it seeks out the citizen, urges acceptance of 
its pledges, presses them upon his consideration, 
proclaims again and again its purpose to keep them 
in letter and spirit. The party makes the citizen its 
solicitor, secures his good offices to repeat its prom- 
ises, proclaim its principles, and enlist in its ranks 
his neighbors and friends. Having secured his sup- 
port, his influence, his vote, the party is in honor 
bound to keep its pledged word. 

When the citizen, relying upon the pledges made 
in the platform of the party, aids to place a repre- 
sentative in the public service to the end that he 
may fulfill and perform in letter and spirit the prom- 
ises for legislation and administration promised in 
the platform, the official is solemnly bound to the 
execution of his sacred trust. He cannot play fast 
and loose with party promises and preserve a sem- 
blance of official or individual integrity. 

Any legislation which does not proceed upon the 
basis that it is a wise, just, and safe exercise of legis- 
lative power cannot achieve any enduring good. 
Without these supporting considerations, such legisla- 
tion can be urged only on grounds of political expe- 
diency. But let no man be misled by the expectation 

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Representative Government 19 

that any half-way measure will serve even the end 
of political expediency. 

''Regulation of R, R. Rates and Services," 
U. S. Senate, April 19-21, 1906. 

The Iniquity of the "Conference" System 

Mr. President, a system of rules giving into the 
hands of a conference the power to make legislation is 
destructive of democracy. 

I hope that as a member of this body I shall live 
to see the rules with respect to confetence reports so 
changed that it will not be possible for two or three 
men to dictate and put through legislation. This is 
a democracy. We are supposed to be the representa- 
tives of the people. 

Our work upon this floor and the work of our asso- 
ciates at the other end of the capltol is supposed to 
represent public opinion and the interests of the great 
masses of this country. But I need not say to the 
senators what everybody knows, that very often the 
public will is defeated, that public interest is perverted, 
and democracy is shackled in legislation as we enact it. 
U, S. Senate, July 26, 19 16. 

Never Know Defeat in a Good Cause 

There is no difference in principle in pressing the 
same issue before the people in successive campaigns 
and in presenting the same issue to the legislature in 
successive sessions. Our direct primary law, equali- 
zation of taxation, bur railroad commission, our con- 
trol of public utilities and other advanced measures 
were ultimately secured after a number of hard-fought 
campaigns. It was for that very reason that they won 

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20 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

so completely. We not only struck while the iron was 
hot, we made it hot and kept it so by striking. That 
is what the new spirit of American politics has taught 
us — ^never to know defeat in a good cause. 

Speech in U, S, Senate on Railroad 
Regulation, April 26, 1913. 

The Supreme Issue 

With the changing phases of a twenty-five year 
contest, I have been more and more impressed with 
the deep underlying singleness of the issue. It is 
not railroad regulation. It is not the tariff, or con- 
servation, or the currency. It is not the trusts. 
These and other questions are but manifestations of 
one great struggle. 

The supreme issue, involving all others, is the 
encroachment of the powerful few upon the rights 
of the many. This mighty power has come between 
the people and their government. Can we free our- 
selves from this control? Can representative gov- 
ernment be restored ? Shall we, with statesmanship 
and constructive legislation, meet these problems, 
or shall we pass them on with all the possibilities of 
conflict and chaos, to future generations? 

There never was a higher call to greater service 
than in this protracted fight for social justice. I 
believe, with increasing depth of conviction, that 
we will, in our day, meet our responsibility with 
fearlessness and faith ; that we will reclaim and pre- 
serve for our children, not only the form but the 
spirit of our free institutions. And in our children 
must we rest our hope for the ultimate democracy. 

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Representative Government 21 

It is my settled belief that this great power over 
government legislation can only be overthrown by 
resisting at every step, seizing upon every impor- 
tant occasion which offers opportunity to uncover 
the methods of the system. It matters little whether 
the particular question at issue is the tariff, the 
railroads, or the currency. The fight is the same. 
It is not a qt;estion of party politics. The great 
issue strikes down to the very foundation of our 
free institutions. It is against the system built up 
by privilege, which has taken possession of gov- 
ernment and legislation, that we must make unceas- 
ing warfare. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Pledges of Political Platforms 
What is a political platform? What is its pur- 
pose? What is its importance in democratic forms 
of government? 

In every republic, government is practically cer- 
tain to be administered by some political party. 
The citizen gives his support to that political party, 
the principles of which most nearly meet his ap- 
proving judgment. These principles are placed be- 
fore the citizen for his consideration in a platform 
expressing the will of the majority of the party. 
The method of ascertaining that will having been 
agreed upon, the platform then becomes the law of 
the party to which all of its members owe faith, 
support and allegiance. The promulgation of a 
platform of declared principles, upon which the 
voters are askedXto entrust a political party with 
the government of the state or the nation, must be 

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22 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

as binding upon the party conscience as though it 
were the sealed bond of every individual of the 
party. The obligation is two-fold : first, to the party 
itself ; second, to the citizen whose support is sought. 
Violation of the party promise is an assault upon 
the party honor, destroys the confidence of its mem- 
bership, and endangers the existence of party organ- 
ization. It is a betrayal of the public, a fraud upon 
the citizen who supported it, and who, relying upon 
it. has been deprived of a sovereign right. To se- 
cure the support of voters upon any promise, ex- 
press or implied, and then to refuse to fulfill the 
promise deprives the citizen of his right of suffrage 
as completely for the time being as though he were 
disfranchised by legislative enactment. 

Manhood suffrage is a precious right, and in a 
democracy it lies at the foundation of all personal 
and property rights. Without it the citizen has no 
protection for home or liberty. If it be denied to 
him, the citizen becomes a serf. A party platform 
is, therefore, of the highest importance to the in- 
dividual voter. When it has been formulated by 
the party and promulgated as its declaration of 
principles, as its pledge to do certain things, to ad- 
minister the government in a certain way, to enact 
certain legislation, the citizen is then placed in a 
position where he can easily determine^ whether he 
desires to support the party promising that kind of 
government. It is the party platform which en- 
ables him to choose in making his party alliance. 
He understands that one party or the other will 
control, and will make and will administer the laws. 
Guided, then, by the promises made in the party 

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Representative Government 23 

platform he casts his ballot, gives his support, works 
for the triumph and success of that party whose 
platform principles most strongly appeal to his 
judgment. The party's tender of its platform, the 
citizen's tender of his support upon that platform, 
makes, therefore, a solemn compact, a covenant, 
which binds the party to the voter, who has staked 
his faith and placed his interests upon its honor and 
in its keeping. The party, therefore, has become the 
trustee of the citizen's right, and it cannot violate 
the obligation which it has assumed. 

But, more than this, the party summons its mem- 
bers to go forth bearing its banners and proclaiming 
its principles. It seeks out the citizen, it enlists him 
in its service, it urges him to accept its pledges, 
and appeals to him to go forth and repeat its prom- 
ises and proclaim its good faith, multiplying, on 
every hand, its obligations to keep its word and 
make good every promise in its platform. Its will- 
ingness to do this is the test of its integrity of 

No fear need ever be entertained that the party 
itself will ignore or repudiate its platform obliga- 
tions. Great bodies of men constituting party or- 
ganizations are drawn together by deep-seated con- 
victions, lasting in character, and appealing strongly 
to the sentiments of loyalty and patriotism. The 
mass of men composing party organizations can al- 
ways be relied upon to support party platforms. 
There will be no failure through lack of fidelity on 
their part. But a political party can only work out 
a practical application of the principles of the party 
platform through legislation and administration. 

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24 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

To accomplish this it must, out of all its members, 
choose agents to represent it and execute its will. 

These members of its organization are placed be- 
fore the public as its candidates for office, its hon- 
ored and trusted spokesmen. In the nature of 
things, the party can only execute its will through 
its chosen representatives. They are clothed with 
its authority ; they are the custodians of its pledges. 
Upon them rests the double obligation to execute 
tins trust; as individual members of the party they 
share in its responsibility, but, as the representa- 
tives of the party deputed to perform its promises, 
its honor is placed in their keeping. When the citi- 
zen, relying upon the pledges made in the platform 
of the party, gives his support to the representative 
of the party and aids to place him in the public serv- 
ice to the end that he may fulfill and perform, in 
letter and in spirit, the promises for legislation and 
administration embodied in the platform, the official 
has become yet more solemnly bound to the faith- 
ful execution of his sacred trusts. 

Upon all matters, not covered by the platform, in 
his official capacity as the agent of his party and 
the representatives of the public, he may exercise 
his best judgment; but in all matters upon which 
his political party has spoken in its platform, when 
that party has put him before the public as its 
nominee, representing the principles embodied in 
its party declaration, he has no right to exercise an 
independent judgment. He cannot play fast and 
loose with party promise and preserve a semblance 
oir official or individual integrity. 

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Representative Government 25 

The enactment of legislation which has been 
pledged by the party and endorsed by the people 
cannot be defeated, in whole or in part, without a 
violation of obligation. It becomes an express trust, 
the terms clearly defined, and the public official has 
no more moral right to quibble and evade, to say 
that he will perform a part and repudiate the rest, 
than he would have to use a part of trust funds 
committed to his keeping as a private trust. 

If government is to be representative government, 
then it must truly represent the will of the majority; 
both of the party when it has spoken in its platforms 
and of the people when they have spoken through 
the right of suffrage, as expressed in their ballots. 
For a minority to obstruct or delay or defeat the 
will of the majority is destructive of the principles 
upon which a republican form of government is 

Speech Accepting Nomination for Governor, 

May 19, 1904, 

The Reformer 

It is incumbent upon the reformer who seeks to es- 
tablish a new order to come equipped with com- 
plete mastery of all the information upon which the 
established order is based. And it is for this rea- 
son that the thoroughgoing, uncompromising, Pro- 
- gtessive movement is essentially a safe One for the 
public and for all legitimate business. 

Reformers often stop fighting before the battle 
is really won ; before the new territory is completely 

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26 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

I have always felt that the political reformer, like 
the engineer or the architect, must know that his 
foundations are right. To build the superstructure 
in advance of that is likely to be disastrous to the 
whole thing. He must not put the roof on before 
he gets the underpinning in. And the underpinning 
is education of the people. 

While much has been accomplished, there is a 
world of problems to be solved; we have just be- 
gun; there is hard fighting, and a chance for the 
highest patriotism, still ahead of us. The funda- 
mental problem as to which shall rule, men or prop- 
erty, is still unsettled; it will require the highest 
qualities of heroism, the profoundest devotion to 
duty in this and in the coming generation, to re- 
construct our institutions to meet the requirements 
of a new age. May such brave and true leaders de- 
velop that the people will not be led astray* 

Autobiography, 1913. 

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Ballot at Bottom of Reform 

HE existence of the corporation as we 
have it today was not dreamt of by the 
fathers. It has become all-pervasive; 
has invaded all departments of business, 
all activities of life. By their number 
and power and the consolidation oft-times of many 
into one, corporations have practically acquired do- 
minion over the business world. The effect is revo- 
lutionary and cannot be overestimated. The individual 
aSj^a business factor is disappearing, his place being 
taken by many under corporate rule. The business 
man and artisan of the past gave to his business an 
individual stamp and reputation, making high mental 
worth an essential element of business life. Gathered 
in corporate employ men become mere cogs in the 
wheels of complicated mechanism. The corporation is 
a machine for making money, demanding of its em- 
ployes only obedience and service, reducing men to 
the status of privates in the regular army. 

It is but just to say that no legislature has assem- 
bled in Wisconsin in many years containing so many 
good men as the last. But when a bill to punish cor- 
rupt practices' in campaigns and elections is destroyed 
by amendment; when measures such as the Davtidson 
bills requiring corporations to pay a just share of the 

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28 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

taxes go down in defeat ; when bills to compel millions 
of dollars of untaxed personal property to come from 
its hiding place and help maintain government fail of 
adequate support; when republicans and democrats 
unite in defeating the Hall resolution to emancipate 
the legislature from all subserviency to the corpora- 
tions by prohibiting acceptance of railroad passes, 
telegraph and express company franks; when these 
things and many others of like character happen and 
are made matters of public record which no man may 
deny, then that man is untrue to his country, his party 
and himself who will not raise his voice in condemna- 
tion — ^not in condemnation of the principles of the 
political party in which he believes, or of the great 
body of its organization, but of the men who betray 
it and of the methods by which they control, only to 
prostitute it to base and selfish ends. 

The remedy is to begin at the bottom and make one 
supreme effort for victory over the present bad system. 
Nominate and elect men who will pass a primary elec- 
tion law which will enable the voter to select directly 
candidates without intervention of caucus or conven- 
tion or domination of niachines. Thus may a perma- 
nent reform greater even than the reform effected by 
the Australian ballot which has so revolutionized the 
conduct of elections be brought about. Apply the 
method of. the Australian ballot as embodied in the 
Cooper law to the primary election and let it take 
the place of both the caucus and convention. Furnish 
the primary election booth with ballots as under the 
Australian system and print on the ballot for each 
party the names of the different candidates proposed 
for its nominee as candidates for judicial offices are 

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Primary Elections 29 

now proposed ; provide for the selection of a committee 
to represent each party organization and promulgate 
the party platform through such committee composed 
of party committeemen elected by and for the voters 
of each party in every assembly district of the state. 
Provide severe penalties for any violation of the pri- 
mary election law. Prohibit corrupt influence in or 
about the election booth and insure an honest count 
and return the votes as cast. Provide that each man 
receiving the highest number of votes cast in the bal- 
lot box of his party for the office for which he is a 
candidate shall be the nomiinee of that party in the 
general election to follow. In short pass such a meas- 
ure as the Lewis primary election bill. Under this 
system you will destroy the machine because you de- 
stroy the caucus and convention system through which 
the machine controls party nominations. You will 
place the nominations directly in the hands of , the 
people. You will restore to every state in the union 
the government given to this people by the God of 

Address "Menace of the Machine/' 
Chicago University, Feb. 22, 1897. 

Direct Nominations Fundamental 

Under bur form of government the entire structure 
rests upon the nomination of candidates for office. 
This is the foundation of the representative system. 
If bad men control the nominations we cannot have 
good government. Let us start right. The life prin- 
ciple of representative government is that those chosen 
to govern shall faithfully represent the governed. To 
insure this the representative must be chosen by those 

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30 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

whom he is to represent. This is fundamental. A 
system bnih upon any other foundation is not a rep- 
resentative government. By no other means can it be 
established or maintained. The moment that any 
power or authority over the representative comes be- 
tween him and those who have selected him to be their 
representative that moment he ceases to be their rep- 
resentative. His responsibility is. at once transferred 
to the intervening power or authority. He becomes 
the trustee of this new authority and to it he must 
render account for his actions. It is vital then in 
representative government that no power or authority 
shall be permitted to come between the representative 
and those whom he is to represent. To secure this 
every complication of detail and method, in any sys- 
tem, behind which such intruding power or authority 
might be concealed must be torn down and cast aside. 
The voter, and the candidate for nomination who de- 
sires to represent the voter, must be brought withip 
reaching distance of each other, must stand face to 

To accomplish this we must abolish the caucus and 
convention by law, place the nomination of all can- 
didates in the hands of the people, adopt the Australian 
ballot and make all nominations by direct vote at a 
primary election. 

With the nominations of all candidates absolutely 
in the control of the people, under a system that gives 
every member of a party equal voice in making that 
nomination, the public official who desires re-nomina- 
tion will not dare to seek it, if he has served the 
machine and the lobby and betrayed the public trust; 

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Primary Elections 31 

if he has violated the pledges of his party and swapped 
its declared principles to special interests for special 

But under a primary election the public official who 
has kept faith with the public can appeal to that pub- 
lic for its approval with confidence. He will then have 
every incentive to keep his official record clean. If 
he have no loftier standard than mere personal success 
he will nevertheless so administer his office as to earn 
the commendation "Well done thou good and faith- 
ful servant." 

The nomination of all their candidates by the direct 
vote of the people is the spirit, the very life of repre- 
sentative government. It is plain, simple, practical. 
It is their right. It will come. Whoever seeks to 
thwart or defeat it is an enemy of representative gov- 
ernment. Let him beware! Whoever would control 
as the agent of the machine will encounter lasting de- 
feat. Let him beware! The country is awakening, 
the people are aroused. They will have their own. 
The machine may obstruct, misdirected reform may 
temporize, but "be of good cheer, strengthen thine 
heart," the will of the people shall prevail. 

I appeal to you, young men and old, plain citizens 
and politicians. You are confronted with a great re- 
sponsibility. In this contest you must either stand for 
representative government or against it. The fight is 
on. It will continue to victory. There will be no halt 
and no compromise. 

Address at Ami Arbor, Michigan, 

March 12, 1898. 

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32 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

Means Higher Standards of Service 

For many years there has been a growing demand 
for ballot reform. Intelligent, patriotic men of all 
parties have weighed carefully the influence of the 
ballot upon both government and party. The public 
official who can count on party loyalty to carry him 
through, gro\ys indifferent and dishonest in the public 
service. The political party which is strongly in- 
trenched in power behind a blind partisan majority, 
scorns public op!inion and claims its share of graft 
to enrich bosses and maintain the party machine. To 
control the selection of candidates for office, to hedge 
the party organization about with a sentiment that the 
party is a sacred thing, to so arouse partisan feeling in 
the campaign as to fuse the mass of voters together, 
and make them vote as one man, has made possible 
the era of official dishonesty, which seems to have 
taken possession of the public service everywhere. 
Out of it there came to political bosses a sense of se- 
curity which made them bo!d in dealing with the 
agents of the captains of industry, who have found it 
to their interests to make politics and government a 
matter of business. 

Whatever conduces to make the voter as he enters 
the election booth free to exercise an independent 
judgment, to consider the public welfare, the integrity 
of the state and the country first of all, will at once 
establish higher party standards and better public 

Message to Legislature, Special Session, 1905. 

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Primary Elections 33 

Caucus Reform Idle Dream 

Corporations, exacting large sums from the people 
of this state in profits upon business transacted within 
its limits, either wholly escape taxation or pay insig- 
n'ficantly in comparison with the average citizen of 

Owning two-thirds of the personal property, evad- 
ing the payment of taxes wherever possible, the cor- 
porations throw almost the whole burden upon land — 
upon the little homes and the personal property of the 

While this is getting to be somewhat understood, 
yet a rigid investigation of this whole subject of 
evasion of taxation by corporations and the possessors 
of great wealth in every state, would awaken the 
just wrath of the people and inaugurate a reform 
which might reach even to the machJine-made legisla- 
tors of the day. 

But in a government where the people are sovereign, 
why are these things tolerated? Why are not the 
remedies promptly applied and the evils eradicated? 
It is because today there is a force operating in this 
country, more powerful than the sovereign in matters 
pertaining to official conduct. The official obeys whom 
he serves. Nominated independently of the people 
and elected because there is no choice between candi- 
dates so nominated, the official feels responsibility 
to his master alone, and his master is the political 
machine of his party. 

Between the people and tHe representative there has 
been built up a political machine which is the master 
of both. It is the outgrowth of the caucus and con- 
vention system. 

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34 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Experience has proved it to be almost idle folly to 
attend caucuses and conventions with the hope of de- 
feating the machine until today, after a century of 
statesmanship and of struggle and sacrifice, after all 
the triumphs achieved under the stars and stripes, 
thousands and thousands of good citizens in every 
state stand aloof from the caucus and convention with 
the settled belief that representative government is a 

When the solemn promise of a great political party 
to prohibit the issuing of railway passes to officials is 
not only broken but attempted to be repudiated, when 
these things, and many others of like character, trans- 
pire and are made matters of public record, which no 
man can deny, then that man is untrue to his state, 
his party and himself who will not raise his voice in 
condemnation — ^not in condemnation of the principles 
of the political party in which he believes, nor of the 
great body of its organization, but of those men who 
betray it and the methods by which they control only 
tc prostitute fit to base and selfish ends. 

When legislators will boldly repudiate their con- 
stituents and violate the pledges of their platforms^ 
then, indeed, have the servants become the masters 
and the people ceased to be sovereign. Gone the 
government of equal rights and equal responsibili- 
ties, lost the jewel of constitutional liberty. 

Speech at Lodi, Wisconsin, 1898. 

Second Choice Voting 

I congratulate you, and through you, the people of 
Wisconsin upon the adoption of a law for the nomina- 
tion of all candidates for office by direct vote. The 

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Primary Elections 35 

demand of the voters of this state for such a law had 
been made many times in a clear and explicit manner. 
Its defeat, against the will of the majority, was the 
clearest impeachment of the caucus and convention 
system which made it possible for a minority to con- 

When after years of delay the people of Wisconsin 
were granted the opportunity finally to determine the 
question, they wrote the law upon the statutes of Wis- 
consin by more than 50,000 majority. The perfection 
of legislation can only be determined by the practical 
test of experience. With respect to any modifications 
in the existing statute during the present session, I 
have no recommendations to make further than to 
repeat a suggestion heretofore made. 

In the first message submitted to the legislature of 
1901 upon the subject, after discussing the possibility 
of the vote being so divided among a number of can- 
didates for the same office that no one of them might 
receive a majority of all the votes cast, I said: 

"If, however, upon trial, it should be found desir- 
able or if, in your judgment, it should be deemed wise 
at the outset, this objection can be effectively met by 
providing that the voter at the primary shall indicate 
upon his ballot his first and second choice of the can- 
didates presented for each office. And that if no 
candidate has majority over all candidates of first 
choice, then the candidate having the largest number 
of first and second choice votes shall be accorded the 

The application of this principle may be carried 
still further, insuring a nomination by majority vote. 

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36 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

Upon this, or any other branch of th:s great sub- 
ject, the best thought of your honorable body will be 
well bestowed. For it is our duty to unite at all times 
to give to the people of th's state the best statute which 
can be framed upon any subject. 

Message to Legislature, 1905. 

Primary as Citizen's Right 

But, gentlemen of the convention, with all of 
your good work, nothing which you have done, 
nothing which has been done by any convention in 
a quarter of a century, will give to every man who 
has had a share in this work, such enduring honor 
when it shall have ripened into statutory law, as 
the declaration made here today, for the nomination 
of all candidates by direct vote at a primary election 
under the Australian ballot. The tests of experience 
will doubtless be required to perfect all the working 
details of a primary election law. It would be 
strange indeed if it were not so. But your great 
achievement is in having established the principle 
and begun the overthrow of a system that is under- 
mining the representative government throughout 
the land. No longer in Wisconsin will there stand 
between the voter and the official a political machine 
with a complicated system of caucuses and conven- 
tions, by the easy manipulation of which it thwarts 
the will of the voter and rules official conduct. No 
valid reason can be given for continuing the caucus 
and convention another day. If the voter is com- 
petent to cast his ballot at the general election for 
the official of his choice, he is equally competent to 
vote directly at the primary election for the nomina- 

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Primary Elections 37 

tion of the candidates of his party. It is his right 
as a citizen and taxpayer and who will dare to gain- 
say or deny it? 

Inspired with confidence by the great reforma- 
tion accomplished in our general elections through 
the Australian ballot, we advance the standards of 
reform and demand the application of the same 
method in making nominations together with the 
sovereign right that each citizen shall for himself 
exercise his choice by direct vote, without the inter- 
vention or interference of any political agency. 

Into the life of every generation comes some great 
opportunity for great public good. It has come to 
you today and, with high courage and patriotism, 
you have marked the way to restore to the people 
the pure form of representative government given 
them by the fathers in the beginning. 

Accepting Nomination for Governor, 

August 8, 1900. 

Equal Voice Essential 

Commissioned by the sufifrages of the citizens of 
this state to represent them, you will have neither 
in the session before you not in any official respon- 
sibility which you may assUme, a more important 
duty than that of perfecting and writing upon the 
statute books of Wisconsin a primary election law. 

It is a fundamental principle of this republic that 
each citizen shall have equal voice in government. 
This is recognized and guaranteed to him through 
the ballot. In a representative democracy, where a 
citizen cannot act for himself for any reason, he 

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38 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

must delegate his authority to the public official 
who acts for him. Since government, with us, is 
conducted by the representatives of some political 
party, the citizen's voice in making and administer- 
ing the laws is expressed through his party ballot. 
This privilege is vital. This is the initial point of 
all administration. It is here government begins, 
and Jf there be failure here, there will be failure 
throughout.. Control lost at this point is never re- 
gained ; rights surrendered here are never restored. 
The naming of the men upon the party ticket is the 
naming of the men who will make and enforce the 
laws. It not only settles the policy of the party, it 
determines the character of the government. 

For many years the evils of the caucus and con- 
vention system have multiplied ^nd baffled all at- 
tempts at legislative control or correction. The 
reason for^this is elementary. The evils come not 
from without but from within. The system in all 
its details is inherently bad. It not only favors, but, 
logically and inevitably, produces manipulation, 
scheming, trickery, fraud and corruption. The del- 
egate elected in caucus is nominally the agent of 
the voter to act for him in convention. Too fre- 
quently he has his own interests alone at heart, and, 
for this reason, has secured his selection as a dele- 
gate. As a consequence, he acts not for the voter, 
but serves his own purpose instead. This fact in 
itself taints the trust from the outset, and poisons 
the system at its very source. No legitimate busi- 
ness could survive under a system where authority 
to transact its vital matters were delegated and re- 
delegated to agents and sub-agents, who controlled 

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Primary Elections 39 

their own selection, construed their own obliga- 
tions, and were responsible to nobody. 

The officials nominated by the machine become 
its faithful servants and surrender judgment to its 
will. This they must do in self-preservation or they 
are retired to private life. Wielding a power sub- 
stantially independent of the voter, it is quite un- 
necessary to regard him as an important factor in 
government. He can usually be depended upon in 
the elections, because campaigns are so managed as 
to make strong appeal to party feeling, and he has 
to vote his party ticket or support that of the op- 
position nominated by the same method. Under our 
system of party government the selection of the 
candidate is the vital question. 

A political convention is never a deliberative body.^ 
It is impossible from the brevity of its life, the con- 
fusion of its proceedings, the intangible character 
of its records, to fix or attach any abiding sense of 
responsibility in its membership. Its business is' 
rushed through under pressure for time. Excite- 
ment and impatience control, rather than reason and 
judgment. Noisy enthusiasm outweighs the strong- 
est argument. Misstatements and misunderstand- 
ings will defeat the best candidate. The plain truth 
can hardly keep pace with hurrying events. It is 
rare, indeed, that the results of a convention are 
satisfactory to anybody excepting the few who se- 
cure some personal advantage or benefit from it. 

It is the essence of republican government that 
the citizen should act for himself directly wherever 
possible. In the exercise of no other right is this so 
important as in the nomination of candidates for of- 

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40 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

fice. It is of primary importance that the public 
official should hold himself directly accountable to 
the citizen. This he will do only when he owes his 
nomination directly to the citizen. If between the 
citizen and the official there is a complicated system 
oi caucuses and conventions, by the easy manipula- 
tion of which the selection of candidates is con- 
trolled by some other agency or power, then the 
official will so render his services as to have the 
approval of such agency or power. The overwhelm- 
ing demand of the people of this state, whom you 
represent, is that such intervening power and au- 
thority, and the complicated system which sustains 
it, shall be torn down and cast aside. This is your 
duty, and high privilege as well, to accomplish it in 
the session before you. This, it is well understood, 
cannot be accomplished by any temporizing meas- 
ure or so-called caucus reforms. The defects of the 
caucus, convention , and delegate system are fatal 
because organic. It cannot be amended, recon- 
structed or reorganize!^, and its perpetuation se- 
cured. Its end is decreed by the enlightened moral 
sentiment of the entire country. It can no more 
resist the development which is sweeping it aside 
than could the adoption of the Australian ballot be 
successfully opposed a short ten years ago. It may 
secure trifling delays by temporary expedients. Its 
advocates may insist on making it a fetich and being 
sacrificed with it. But its knell has been sounded in 
Wisconsin, where it is already defeated, and a de- 
cade will leave scarcely a trace of its complicated 
machinery in existence in any State of the Union. 
Message to Legislature, 1901. 

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Primary Elections 4^ 

Primary Deserving of Fair Test 

I herewith return without approval bill No. 73, 
originating in the senate, entitled "An act relating 
to nominations of county officers by direct vote." 

The history of the effort to secure a primary elec- 
tion law in this state, the character of the opposi- 
tion, and the means employed to defeat it demand a 
permanent place in the legislative record of this 
session. It is therefore from a controlling sense of 
obligation that I submit the following in connection 
with specific reasons for interposing the executive 
veto to prevent this bill from becoming a law. 

More than four years ago the contest for nomina- 
tions by direct vote of the people began in this 
state. The principle was then clearly defined. The 
plan under which it could be accomplished was then 
fully presented. More than that, the foundation 
and framework for a primary election law were at 
that time set forth and submitted to the people of 
this state as follows : 

"Substitute for both the caucus and the conven- 
tion a primary election held under all the sanctions 
of law which prevail at general elections, where the 
citizen may cast his vote directly to nominate the 
candidates of the party with which he affiliates, and 
have it canvassed and returned as he cast it. 
. "Provide a means of placing the candidates in 
nomination before the primary and forestall the 
creation of a new caucus system back of the primary 

"Provide a ballot for the primary election and 
print on it the names of all candidates for nomina- 

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42 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

tion who have previously filed preliminary nomina- 
tion papers with a designated official. 

"Provide that no candidate for nomination shall 
have his name printed on the primary election ticket 
who shall not have been called out as a candidate by 
the written request of a given percentage of the 
vote cast at the preceding election in the district, 
county or state in which he is proposed as a candi- 
date, in the same manner that judicial candidates 
are now called out in many states. 

"Provide for the selection of a committee to repre- 
sent the party organization and promulgate the 
party platform by the election at the primary of a 
representative man from the party for each county 
in the state. 

Measure Fully Discussed 

"Under severe penalties for violation of the law, 
prohibit electioneering in or about the election 
booth, punish bribery or the attempt to bribe, and 
protect fully the canvass and return of the votes 

Excepting as to the manner of making the plat- 
form, which is not the same, this presents fairly all 
the essential provisions of the primary election bill 
as originally introduced at this session. It- would 
be difficult, indeed, to cite another instance in the 
history of the state where a great measure, of such 
fundamental importance in government, was more 
fully and clearly outlined and more generally dis- 
cussed so long in advance. No haste was anywhere 
shown to urge legislation. Whatever was done was 
solely with the view of stimulating thought and 

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Primary Elections 43 

argument of the measure upon its merits. From 
platform and pulpit, before agricultural societies, 
good government clubs, political clubs, debating 
societies, in the schoolhouses and public* halls, 
wherever men were gathered together, the dangers 
which threaten representative government were dis- 
cussed, the cause plainly traced to the selection of 
candidates by the bosses, the vital importance of 
election by the people by direct vote, and the neces- 
sary provisions of a primary law were fully and 
fairly presented. The press of the state, almost 
without exception, gave the subject editorial treat- 
ment from time to time, while the leading period- 
icals and magazines of the country, widely read by our 
people, devoted much space to its consideration. 
Hundreds of thousands of pamphlets and addresses 
presenting every phase of the issue and meeting 
the arguments and objections of the opposition 
were distributed throughout the state. The entire 
matter was thoroughly well understood. Indeed, 
so plainly were the provisions of the primary elec- 
tion bill outlined, so fully was the principle and its 
application discussed, so emphatically approved by 
the voters of Wisconsin in the last election, that the 
defeat of the bill is a plain violation of the principle 
upon which is based a "government of the people, 
by the people, and for the people." It was so over- 
whelmingly approved by the voters because they 
were everywhere ready for it. The machine haa 
prepared the way. Not a county, not a community 
but had its boss and master, who in turn had his, 
higher up in the feudal system which then controlled 
the commonwealth. State officers and members of 

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44 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

the legislature were named by less than half a dozen 
gentlemen equal in authority, absolutely at their 
pleasure. Such was the sense of security which 
unopposed power inspires, that nominations were 
settled sometimes months in advance of conven- 
tions called merely to "ratify" the same. In state 
conventions delegates were bribed to betray their 
constituents by men who had held high official sta- 
tion. So brazen and reckless did their agents be- 
come in approaching decent men who spurned their 
offers that good citizenship was everywhere ready 
for open revolt. Representative government was 
being practically undermined. The men were not 
the candidates of the voters but of the machine. 
The official was no longer the servant of the people, 
but the abject tool of the men who fought the nom- 
ination and owned the official. These gentlemen 
had from time to time manifested their power in 
debauching legislation and their evil work is found 
today in many statutes, affecting adversely the in- 
terests of every citizen of the state. 

The remedy proposed — the nomination of all can- 
didates by direct vote of the citizen — ^went straight 
to the heart of the trouble. It brought the business 
of choosing candidates back to the basic principle 
of pure democratic government. It eliminated the 
boss and the machine. It left no place for either. 
It was a new declaration of independence. It pro- 
claimed to the world that the people proposed to 
take charge of the business of government for them- 
selves. It was so manifestly right, so plainly neces- 
sary to rescue representative government from abr 
solute overthrow by machine control, which is al- 

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Primary Elections 45 

ways minority control, that it quickly received the 
approval of the thoughful and patriotic citizenship 
of the state without respect to party alliance. 

Clearly understanding the meaning and full scope 
of their action, each of the great political parties of 
the state — the Democrats in 1898 and the Republi- 
cans in 1900 — adopted in their respective platforms, 
without qualification or limitation, the principle for 
the nomination of all candidates by direct vote of 
the people at a primary election, in lieu of nomina- 
tions by delegates through the machinery of cau- 
cuses and conventions. 

Platform Pledge Important 

In every republic the laws are very certain to be 
made and administered by the representatives of 
son\e political party. It therefore becomes a ques- 
tion of deep concern to every citizen to determine 
with what party he will affiliate. This is all-import- 
ant to him, and to guide him in deciding, political 
parties present their purposes and their promises to 
perform, in the declarations adopted as the party's 
pledge or platform. This is offered to the voter for 
his consideration. 

Otherwise he cannot know for what kind of gov- 
erninent he is casting his vote. It is a contract pure 
and simple. The party which adopts it, the candi- 
date who accepts a nomination upon it, is solemnly 
bound by its obligations. If he is not in accord with 
it he has neither moral nor political right to be a 
candidate. To stand as the candidate of a party not 
agreeing with its platform, to solicit the suffrages 

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46 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

of the citizen, and when elected to violate the prom- 
ises of that platform is to cheat and betray the 
voter. It is an evasion unworthy of the grave char- 
acter of this great question to say that the con- 
stituent trusts to the independent judgment of his 
representative. In those matters as to which the 
party and its representatives have been pledged he 
has no right afterward to set up an independent 
judgment. If he has independent opinions not in 
conformity with his party platform he should assert 
them before the party and the voter have accepted 
him as the representative of the principle embodied 
in the platform. As to those matters it is too late 
to talk of "independent judgment." That for which 
he stands — the declarations and promises of his 
party to the public — is a sacred public trust, and to 
its faithful execution as a man and public official he 
is in honor bound. 

These observations are submitted because the 
consideration of legislation, to control in any way 
party nominations, embraces within its scope and 
emphasizes in a marked way the relation of political 
parties to government, of the citizen to his political 
party, and of the public official to his constituent, 
his party and the state. These relations and the ob- 
ligations imposed must in matters of special import- 
ance be defined by platform declarations. This is 
even more imperative in state government where 
the issues are not political, in that sense which dis- 
tinguishes where national politics are involved. In 
matters of national legislation and national adminis- 
tration political policies are expected to control. 
The issues are clearly defined on all the principal 

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Primary Elections 47 

subjects of legislation. This would be generally 
true in the absence of platform declarations. The 
traditions of parties and the fundamental principles 
upon which they were organized point the way they 
are certain to go. For these reasons the voter does 
not feel bound to consider so critically the construc- 
tion of the national platform of his party, unless 
there be incorporated in it some new and unortho-. 
dox party creed. But state legislation deals with 
the subjects of taxation, the maintenance and regu- 
lation of our system of jurisdiction, the support and 
care for the charitable and penal institutions, the 
nurture and development of our educational system, 
the regulation of banking and insurance, and other 
purely domestic affairs, where political division is 
impossible. Indeed, it may be said that substanti- 
ally all state legislation is strictly nonpartisan in 
character. Hence, if political lines cannot be drawn 
in the legislature because the subjects of legislation 
are not political, then the voter cannot anticipate 
what action will follow the election of a given set 
of officials upon the matters in which he is most 
deeply interested, excepting as the candidates are 
committed in advance by pledges of the respective 
parties. It therefore becomes imperative that the 
proposed policies of state government should be 
clearly defined in platform declarations and fully 
presented to the people of the state, that they may 
decide by their sovereign voice what kind of state 
government they are to have, and in so far as prac- 
ticable what laws are to be enacted and what gen- 
eral policies shall be pursued. 

Veto Message, May lo, 1901. 

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48 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Transfer of Power Weakens Authority 

Compelling the citizen to hand his sovereign right, 
to vote directly for the candidates of his choice, 
over to some caucus delegate, to be turned over to 
some convention delegate to barter for something 
for himself, impairs the voter's right of suffrage, 
and its evil effects in representative government are 
more strikingly manifest in the actions of the public 
official than of the private citizen. 

The official well understands that his nomination 
through delegates invariably is secured without the 
consent of a majority of the voters of his party, or 
indeed, without the consent of even a fair minority 
of his party. He well knows the value of the pow- 
erful influence of public-service corporations through 
the caucus and convention, and this knowledge 
bears strongly upon his official action. He reasons 
that under ordinary circumstances the unlimited use 
of money, the support of purchasable newspapers, 
the maintenance of perfect organization, all attain- 
able through the vast resources of such corpora- 
tions, will, under ordinary circumstances, enable 
him to succeed in politics. 

No man can have witnessed the protracted strug- 
gle in this state to secure legislation equalizing the 
burdens of taxation, no man can have witnessed the 
defeat of bills increasing the taxation of the rail- 
roads to more nearly their justly proportionate 
share, and escape the conviction that the present 
method of selecting candidates for office is radically 
defective. It cannot be seriously doubted that under 
a system of nominations by direct vote of the peo- 

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. Primary Elections 49 

pie, their influence upon the official could not fail to 
be very much more pronounced and direct. He 
would well understand that in order to secure their 
approval and support to continue him in public 
life, he must win that approval upon the merit of 
his record in their service. He would know that 
every vote cast, every act as a representative in aid 
of measures or opposed to measures affecting the 
public interest, would be canvassed and reviewed 
when he came to seek re-nomination; hence, his 
record as a public official would be made day by 
day with that sense of personal responsibility, aris- 
ing from a knowledge of direct and certain account- 
ability to the people, pointing the way he should go. 

This is the one thing needful in a republican form 
of government, and the one thing .which cannot be 
dispensed with in any of the affairs of life where one 
man performs services for another. No trust would 
be safe, unless the trustee knew that he would be 
required to render an account of his stewardship to 
one having authority to terminate it. In no other 
trust positions are the opportunities for evading 
responsibility so many or the temptations for be- 
trayal so great and the likelihood of confusing and 
befogging the issue so favorable as in the public 
service. Hence it is imperative that the trustee be 
required to account directly to those whom he rep- 
resents in the discharge of his trust. 

This is the fatal defect in the caucus and conven- 
tion system of selecting candidates to be elected to 
office. Even if men chosen as delegates in the 
caucuses and conventions were never guilty of a 
wilful and corrupt betrayal of trust, if bargains and 

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50 La Pollctte*8 Political Philosophy 

deals and bribery could be eliminated, nevertheless 
the entire plan should be abolished because it re- 
moves the nomination too far from the voter, the 
trustee too far from him for whom he bears the 
trust, the agent too far from the principal. Every 
transfer of delegated power weakens authority and 
diminishes responsibility until the candidate nom- 
inated represents nothing that the voter wanted, 
feels under no obligation to the voter for his nom- 
ination, nor is he directly accountable to him for his 
acts as a public official. 

The momentous importance of discarding the del- 
egate system and securing the personal responsibil- 
ity of the official to the citizen is rapidly coming to 
be accepted through the country. Already legisla- 
tion recognizing, the principle of nominating by di- 
rect vote of the people has been applied in making 
nominations in a dozen different states, while the 
legislatures of twenty-two others have taken hold 
of the subject in an earnest way within the last two 
years. The demand for direct nominations was 
recognized in the platforms of both political parties 
in several states in the recent campaign, and the 
progressive movement is commanding strong sup- 
port throughout the country. 

Will of the People 

To secure a more direct expression of the will of 
the people in all things pertaining to the people's 
government is the dominating thought in American 
politics today. The citizen will no longer surrender 
to delegate, agent, or substitute, any political con- 
tiol which he may properly exercise for himself. 

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Primary Elections 51 

He understands that in some matters pertaining to 
government he must be represented by a public 
servant. The citizen is resolved to participate di- 
rectly wherever he can, and in all matters where he 
must be represented by another, to bring that rep- 
resentative as near to him as possible. The funda- 
mental principle upon which this government was 
established can no longer be subverted. No more 
striking manifestation of this could be found than 
ip the current volume of the Congressional Record. 
For the first time in history the house of representa- 
tives passed, without one dissenting vote, and sent 
to the senate a resolution for the election of United 
States senators by direct vote. The spirit of de- 
mocracy is abroad in the land. Government is to 
be brought back to the people. 

The nomination of all candidates by direct vote 
under the Australian ballot should appeal to the 
patriotism of all legislators and lift them above 
partisan and personal prejudice, in a united effort 
to give the people of Wisconsin a system of electing 
public officials truly representative of public inter- 
ests : in restoring to the people in full measure this 
principle of pure democratic government. This is 
required particularly of republicans by every obliga- 
tion which can be made binding upon the honor of 
the representatives of any political party in the 
public service. 

The party itself will not fail. Men in masses are 
not drawn together in support of principles which 
endure the strain of protracted contest without fixed 
convictions. The party is the aggregation of citi- 
zens bound together by an agreement of opinion 

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53 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

respecting the declared principles of the party. 
They are for maintaining the principles and keeping 
faith with one another. Fixed convictions are the 
foundations of good faith. The party honor is safe 
with the party. It will not betray itself. 

But the party must select men as its medium of 
expression in government from the members of its 
organization and make them public officials to exe- 
cute the will of the majority. Upon the public of- 
ficial then there falls the full weight of this double 
obligation. He represents the individual citizen in 
person. He is the custodian of the party honor. He 
cannot play fast and loose with clearly understood 
personal and party obligations and maintain a sem- 
blance of official integrity. He has no more moral 
right to quibble and evade, to say that he will per- 
form a part and repudiate some of the specific prom- 
ises of the party, than he would have to use in part 
trust funds committed to his keeping. If this be 
counted too exact a standard of public duty today, 
be sure that it' will not be so regarded tomorrow. 
The citizen is being rapidly schooled by experience 
throughout the entire country, and is fast acquiring 
definite ideas of the right relation of the political 
party to government, of the citizen to his political 
party, and the duty of the public official to the citi- 
zen, to his party, and to the State. 

Message to Legislature, 1903. 

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Legitimate Organization and Machine Contrasted 

I O enlist the interest of every individual, 
encourage research, stimulate discus- 
sion of measures and of men, prior to 
the time when the voter should dis- 
charge this primary duty of citizenship, 
offers political organization opportunity for the 
highest public service. Teaching the principles of 
the party, reviewing political history, discussing 
pending and proposed legislation, investigating the 
fitness of candidates for office, quickening the sense 
of obligation and personal responsibility in all the 
duties of citizenship, commanding the continuous, 
intelligent, personal interest of the individual voter 
— and when the campaign is on, conducting the 
canvass — these are the legitimate functions of po- 
litical organization. 

Such organizations cannot be used as political 
machines for individuals or factions. Whenever 
such organizations are maintained political slates 
are shattered and political bargains fail of consum- 
mation. Cliques, rings, machines, thrive upon the 
citizen's indifference to the plain duties of reprer 
sentative government. 

There is no likeness or similitude between a poli- 
tical organization that appeals to every voter in the 

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54 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

party and a machine that appeals only to the most 
skilled and unscrupulous workers of the party. 

This is the modern political machine. It is im- 
personal, irresponsible, extra legal. The courts of- 
fer no redress for the rights it violates, the wrongs 
it inflicts. It is without conscience and without re- 
morse. It has come to be enthroned in American 
politics. It rules caucuses, names delegates, ap- 
points committees, dominates the councils of the 
party, dictates nominations, makes platforms, dis- 
penses patronage, directs state administrations, con- 
trols legislatures, stifles opposition, punishes inde- 
pendence and elects United States senators. In the 
states where it is supreme, the edict of the machine 
is the only sound heard, and outside is easily mis- 
taken for the voice of the people. If some particular 
platform pledge is necessary to the triumph of the 
hour, the platform is so written and the pledge 
violated without offering excuse or justification. 
If public opinion be roused to indignant protest, 
some scapegoat is put forward to suffer vicariously 
for the sins of tHe machine, and subsequently re- 
warded for his service by the emoluments of ma- 
chine spoils. If popular revolt against the machine 
sweeps over the state on rare occasions and the 
machine finds itself hard pressed to maintain its 
hold on party organization, control conventions and 
nominate its candidates — when threats and promises 
fail— the "barrel" is not wanting and the way is 

It is independent of the people, and fears no reck- 
oning. In extreme cases where it becomes necessary 
to meet arraignment it has its own press to parry 

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The Machine and the Bosses 55 

or soften the blow. Having no constituency to 
serve, it serves itself. The machine is its own 
master. It owes no obligation and acknowledges 
no responsibility. 

Its legislatures make the laws by its schedule. 
It names their committees. It suppresses bills in- 
«imical to its interests, behind the closed doors of 
its committee rooms. It suppresses debate by ma- 
chine rule and the ready gavel of a pliant speaker. 
It exploits measures with reform titles, designed 
to perpetuate machine control. It cares for special 
interests and takes tribute from its willing subjects, 
the private corporations. There was a time when 
the corporation lobbyist was an important function- 
ary, and the mercenary legislator a factor with 
whom it was necessary to make terms. The per- 
fect political machine is fast superseding the lobby- 
ist. The corporation now makes terms direct with 
the machine and the lobbyist now attends upon the 
legislature to look after details and spy upon the 
action of members. 

It is as much the interest and as plainly the duty 
of the state, to as carefully perfect and guard a 
system of nominating candidates as it perfects and 
guards the system of electing them. 

The reformation effected in our elections by the 
Australian voting system should inspire us with 
confidence in advancing the lines of attack. Recall 
for one moment the change wrought wherever the 
Australian system has been adopted. Formerly the 
polling place was the scene of wrangling, dispute, 
disorder, often of violence and collision ; weak men 
were badgered, corrupt men were bought. The 

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56 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

employer often followed his men to the ballot box, 
voting them in a body, and the political boss was 
always present. Today the voter, freed from all 
annoyances, all espionage, all intimidation, goes 
albiie into the quiet of the election booth and exer- 
cises his right without fear of punishment or hope 
of reward, other than his own conscience affords 
and the general good secures. Here rich and poor, 
employer and employed, nieet on the same level. 
That which had become mere theory under the old 
jplan of voting is transformed into an assured fact 
under the new, and the state maintains in this place 
the equality of its citizens before the law. 

Is there any good reason why a plan so success- 
ful in securing a free, honest ballot and fair count 
in the election, will not work equally well in the 
nomination of candidates? 

Then every citizen will share equally in the nom- 
ination of the candidates of his party and attend' 
primary elections, as a privilege as well as a duty. 
It will no longer be necessary to create an artificial 
interest in the general election to induce voters to 
attend, intelligent, well-considered judgment will 
be substituted for unthinking enthusiasm, the lamp 
of reason for the torchlight. The voter will not 
require to be persuaded that he has an interest in 
the election. He will know that the nominations 
of the party will not be the result of "compromise," 
or impulse or vile design — the "barrel" and the 
irtachine—^but the candidates of the majority hon- 
estly and fairly nominated. 

To every generation some important work is 
committed. If this generation will destroy the po- 

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The Machine and the Bosses 57 

litical machine, will emancipate the majority from 
its enslavement, will again place the destinies of 
this nation in the hands of its citizens, then, "Under 
God, this government of the people, by the people 
and for the people shall not perish from the earth." 
Address, ''Menace of the Machine/' 
Chicago University, February 22, 1897. 

Iniquity of Secret Caucus 

Mr. President, if the senate shall determine to 
make the precedent which the senator from Nev/ 
York seeks to raise here, it may take notice now 
that such a precedent will return many times to 
plague it hereafter. 

I do not recognize, sir, the right of any senator 
here, directly or indirectly, to make against me the 
criticism that I am voting against my party because 
that vote is against the action of members of this 
senate regarding the public business in a secret 
meeting held in some place outside this chamber. 
I deny the right of any secret caucus held outside 
of the senate chamber behind closed doors, with no 
reporters present, to dispose of th# public business 
or anything which may exercise an important or 
controlling influence upon the public business. 

I regard the election of a president pro tempore 
of this great body as of great importance in the con- 
duct of its business. It is of tremendous importance 
at times, Mr. President, in determining what meas- 
ures shall pass this body. I do not propose to be 
read out of the republican party because I cannot 
conscientiously support some man whom a niimber 

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58 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

of my party associates have agreed upon in a secret 
meeting as their choice for president pro tempore of 
the senate. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, 191 1. 

Platform Pledges Sacred 

Platform pledges express the convictions of the 
party and are the inducements offered by the party 
for the votes of the people. They are the party's 
promise to do specific things. They are the voter's 
guide in determining with what party he will affili- 
ate. They constitute a written contract deliberately 
entered into with every man who casts his vote for 
the candidate of his party. Neither the party nor 
the official representative of the party can with 
honor change or repudiate that contract. The 
candidate who is unwilling to be bound by the plat- 
form of the party has no moral or political right to 
accept a party nomination. If having accepted a 
nomination he finds that he is not in accord with 
the pledges of his party, if he cannot carry out its 
promises as an official, if he decides to be independ- 
ent of platform obligation, he is then in honor bound 
so to announce, at once to withdraw as a party 
candidate and stand, if at all, upon his individual 
declaration as a candidate for office independent of 
party support. 

These propositions require no argument. They 
are the unwritten but unchangeable law of political 
ethics. They enforce themselves between the can- 
didate and the party, the official and the public. 
Acceptance of Nomination for Governor, 1902. 

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The Machine and the Bosses 59 

The Machine Politician 

The psychology of a certain type of machine poli- 
tician is a most interesting study. It is characteris- 
tic of him to win if possible, but to appear to win 
in any event. He has a quick, almost prophetic 
eye for the loaded wagon. He has one rule: beat 
the opposition man, but if he cannot be beaten, sup- 
port him. Claim credit for his victory, and at all 
hazards, keep in with the successful candidate. He 
believes that if he cannot get what he wants for 
himself by opposing a candidate, he may possibly 
succeed in getting what he wants by supporting 

Never in my political life have I derived benefit 
from the two sources of power by which machine 
politics chiefly thrives — I mean patronage, the con- 
trol of appointments to office, and the use of large 
sums of money in organization. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Honesty in Politics 

The politician cannot exist without absolute, un- 
yielding, uncompromising honesty. The same high 
regard for right conduct which earns confidence in 
business and professional life commands like trib- 
ute in politics. There is no call to party or public 
service where it is wanting; there is no continued 
success where it is not held and cherished. 

The politician and the statesman stand, the rep- 
resentative of this principle or that party, only so 
long as he stands erect in honor. One deviation, 
one relaxation, one bending of principle, and he 

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6o La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

falls, and falls forever. Nay, woe to him though he 
yield only to weakness, evincing the slightest want 
of moral discrimination! Under the scorching- 
breath of public suspicion, a shining record of honor 
and integrity withers to dust and ashes. There is 
no escape, no appeal. His office is either a sacred 
trust or the poisoned shaft of Nesus. Vain the 
defense of personal friends, vain the previous clean 
public life! Hunted from his high place by a be- 
trayed people, retribution soon closes his career 
and gives his name to the ensuing generation ab- 
horred. No! No! politician or statesman, more 
than any other man, must he ever bend a "vaulting 
ambition" to meet the last exaction of the moral 

Speech, House of Representatives, 

March 25, 1886. 

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Complete Valuation Essential 

RECOMMEND that you so legislate 
as to require the commission not only 
to have a general supervision of the 
system of taxation, but to take such 
measures as will enforce the provisions 
of law, that all property be placed on the assess- 
ment roll at the actual cash value; that it be re- 
quired to institute proper proceedings enforcing 
penalties provided for public officers whose duties 
pertain to the assessment and collection of taxes, 
and against individuals and the officers of corpora- 
tions failing to comply with the provisions of the 
law with respect to the disclosure^ of property for 
assessment ; to prefer charges for the removal from 
office of any assessor who has violated the law re- 
specting assessment, and, in the prosecution of the 
same, authorize the commissioner to call upon the at- 
torney general or any district attorney of the state 
to prosecute any violation of the law respecting the 
assessment and collection of taxes ; to visit, through 
some members of the commission, each county in 
the state, personally, and investigate the work of 
assessors, with authority to summon the assessors 
of the county to appear before such commission, or 
any member thereof, and to submit to examination 
respecting the performance of their duties as such 

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62 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

assessors ; to have full power and authority to take 
testimony and examine individuals and officers of 
corporations, and require the production of books 
and papers; and where the offices and books and 
papers and any of the witnesses are located outside 
the state, whenever necessary, to be empowered to 
take deposition in order to procure such informa- 
tion as may be useful either in enforcing the law or 
in enabling the commission to recommend legisla- 
tion; to examine upon their own motion, or upon 
the information of any individual, into any com- 
plaint as to property liable to taxation that has not 
been assessed, or has been improperly assessed, or 
to take such proceedings as will insure its assess- 
ment under the law, whether such property be 
owned by an individual, a co-partnership or cor- 

Message to Legislature, 1901. 

Equal Taxation Pimdamental 

Uniformity of valuation lies at the foundation of 
equal taxation as between individuals and locali- 
ties, and a complete listing of all taxable property 
is not less essential. 

No student of the subject, however, is unmindful 
of the difficulties encountered in the administration 
of laws to secure the direct taxation of all intangi- 
ble property. While the subject is not a new one, 
thoroughgoing, scientific investigation of it con- 
joined with practical test has still a wide field to 

The question of railway taxation is a practical 
one and it is expected that as public officials we will 

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Taxation ' 63 

deal with it in a practical way. As men of exper- 
ience, some of you men experienced in legislation, 
you will understand, as the public likewise under- 
stands, the opposition which has been made by the 
railroad companies to any increase in their taxes. 
It is a matter of common knowledge among those 
who have encountered the railroad lobby that this 
opposition was so determined as to announce the de- 
clared purpose of the railway companies to increase 
their freight rates enough to offset any increase in 
taxation. The ease with which this menace might 
be enforced can very readily be seen. An increase 
in the fraction of a per cent, in freight rates, or a 
slight readjustment of the classifications, would 
enable railroads to collect from their patrons in 
Wisconsin more than enough to balance any in- 
crease in their taxes. 

Indeed, since legislation has been pending in this 
state to require railroads to pay their proportionate 
share of taxation, freight rates for Wisconsin have 
been increased, indicating a forehanded determina- 
tion to be prepared against legislation to equalize 

It becomes apparent at once that legislation com- 
pelling the railroads, and other public-service cor- 
porations, to pay their proportionate share of the 
taxes will fail utterly in its object unless it be sup- 
plemented with legislation protecting the public 
against increased transportation charges. 

This is not a question of policy. The' railroad 
companies of this state owe the state more than 
$1,000,000 a year. For many years, because of the 
postponement or defeat of legislation requiring them 

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64 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

to pay their proportionate share of the taxes, the 
other taxpayers of Wisconsin have paid for them 
$1,000,000 annually. The case has been tried; the 
hearing has been full, judgment has been given 
again and again. Pledges have been made by po- 
litical parties and repeated by candidates for office, 
over and over again. The question is not an open 
one. There is no opportunity for misunderstanding. 
There is no room for speculation. The truth is as- 
certained. The truth is known. It is lodged in the 
public mind to stay. The people want $1,000,000 
a year because it is the sum owing. They are not 
to be wheedled by any soft phrases about "conser- 
vation." There is nothing to compromise.' Equal 
and just taxation is a fundamental principle of re- 
publican government. The amount due as taxes 
from railroads and other public-service corporations 
should be paid, and paid in full, and I am confident 
that legislation to secure that payment will be 
promptly enacted. 

Message to Legislature, 1903. 

Dog Tax Discrimination 

I return herewith, without approval, bill No. 267, 
originating in the assembly, entitled, "An act to 
provide for licensing dogs and for the collection of 
said license." 

The bill proposes to exact a license fee of from 
one to three dollars from every owner or keeper of 
a dog. Residents of cities and villages can escape 
payment of such a tax by ceasing to own or keep 
dogs. Upon the farm, however, the watch dog and " 
shepherd are as much a necessity as the other dor 

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Taxation ^5 

mestic animals which they protect and guard, and 
the license fee would amount to an increase in taxa- 
tion. The fee or tax proposed may not be esteemed 
by the legislature a serious burden in itself, but it 
would add to burdens borne by a great majority of 
the people which are already out of all proportion 
to those borne by others whose influence would 
seem to be more potent in shaping legislation. 

For many years there has been a well-settled be • 
hef in the minds of a great majority of people of 
this state that quasi-public corporations were pay- 
ing less than a fair share of the taxes necessary to 
maintain government. That belief was fortified by 
the absolute knowledge that certain corporations 
were not taxed at all, and that certain other corpo- 
rations were paying but a nominal tax in the form 
of a license fee. In 1898 this belief had become a 
conviction in the public mind so strong that it found 
clear and emphatic expression in each of the plat- 
forms of the political parties of this state, and the 
legislature of 1899 assembled under a solemn pledge 
to equalize the burdens of taxation. The corpora- 
tions not taxed resisted taxation in any form. The 
corporations then paying taxes in the form of license 
fees opposed any increase. It is a matter of legis- 
lative history that after the enactment of the ex- 
press company, life insurance and sleeping-car leg- 
islation, and after passing through the assembly a 
bill increasing the rate of the license fee on rail- 
roads from four to five per centum upon their gross 
earnings, which was defeated in the senate, the en- 
tire subject was committed to a tax commission 
created by a bilL originating in the senate. That 

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66 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

bill was passed under the pretext that the pressing- 
work of legislative sessions prevented members and 
senators from giving the subject that thoroughness 
of investigation which would insure fairness to 
every interest, and for that reason the people of this 
state acquiesced in the establishment of the com- 
mission to determine the rights and duties of all 
respecting taxation. Thus this question, of great 
and pressing interest to every citizen, was placed 
in the hands of the able gentlemen comprising the 
tax commission two years ago, and the public was 
required to wait upon their decision. The disap- 
pointment incident to the further delay was borne 
with patience by the people, upon whom fell the 
added burden occasioned by the creation of these 
new offices. They assented, however, to the post- 
ponement which this plan necessitated, because, and 
only because, they were assured and persuaded to 
believe that the report of the tax commission would 
settle the disputed question. They submitted with- 
out a murmur to the increased taxation necessary 
to pay the Commission to do its work, believing 
that those who offered this solution of the contro- 
versy were acting in good faith. They had been 
promised equal and just taxation for years, and had 
borne repeated disappointments and delays in the 
fulfillment of those promises with great fortitude. 
They agreed to this form of legislative arbitration, 
confident that the right would prevail because they 
demanded nothing more than just and equal taxa- 
tion for all. They were led to believe that when the 
disinterested gentlemen comprising that commis- 
sion determined the questions and made their rec- 

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I Taxation 67 

ommendations to the legislature, action would fol- 
low in accordance therewith. 

After long continued arduous labor and research, 
the tax commission reported to this legislature that 
there do exist gross inequalities in the tax burden 
placed upon the different classes of property in this 
state, and they made clear and definite recommen- 
dations for a better equalization of these burdens. 

The proposition of the tax commission, like its 
statistics, are too plain and simple to permit mis- 
understanding or doubt in intelligent minds which 
give them consideration. They cannot be obscured 
by a selfish plea that property which can be reached 
by the tax gatherers should be allowed to escape a 
part of its just share of the cost of government, at 
the expense of property now paying a still greater 
share, until that very uncertain and remote time 
when campaign promises and legislative procrasti- 
nation conjoined will result in bringing hidden and 
intangible property within reach of the tax officers. 
Nor is it probable that a majority of the people of 
Wisconsin can be satisfied by framing appropria- 
tion bills in accord with the theory that citizens 
will bear the imposition of unjust and unequal tax- 
ation so long as the increase in their burden is made 
to appear to be due to the betterment and support of 
the public schools. When the taxpayer comes to 
compute profit and loss it cannot change the result 
because the increase in his taxes, caused by neglect 
properly to tax powerful corporate interests, comes 
through a bill making increased appropriations for 
common schools. 

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68 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

The tax commission has formulated and presented 
tr> you bills which would increase the state's rev- 
enues from railroad companies, street railway com- 
panies and from telephone companies. These bills 
are still pending before the legislature, or its com- 
mittees. The commission has presented facts and 
reasons .which have not been discredited, showing 
that the increases proposed in these several bills 
would impose less than the full share of taxes due 
from such companies in comparison with the tax 
charges imposed upon the property and individuals 
carried upon the tax rolls of the state. 

1 am aware that members of the legislature are 
desirous of an adjournment of this session at the 
earliest possible day, but I am very certain that the 
people of this state are more anxious for an approx- 
imately equitable distribution of the tax burden, 
even if the session should be protracted thereby. 

For the reasons herein stated, I am unwilling to 
present to the people of this state, in lieu of the 
legislation to equalize taxation which has been 
promised to them, and which they have a right to 
expect from representative government, a scheme 
which, in a general way, may be described as an 
act to relieve the farmer or city home-owner of a 
small measure of increased tax upon his realty by 
imposing a license fee upon his dog. 

Veto Message, May 2, 1901. 

Ad Valorem Tax Most Just 

The license fee system if fairly adjusted as be- 
tween railroads and other taxable property of the 
state today upon an agreed percentage would fur- 

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Taxation 69 

nish no assurance of a fair division of tax burden a 
year hence. Conditions arise from time to time 
in the commonwealth requiring an increase in the 
rate upon taxable property. At such times property 
taxed under the ad valorem system must bear all 
of the increased burden, while the percentage upon 
which the license fee is based remains the same. 
No valid reason can be assigned why railroad prop- 
erty, remunerative as it is, its value increasing with 
the development and growth of the state, should 
not bear its relative proportion of whatever befalls 
other property by reason of increases in taxation to 
meet emergencies and exigencies that come in the 
ordinary course of human events. 

Legislative appropriations from year to year are 
increased as the expansion and development of the 
state create .proper and unanswerable demands 
therefor. Public buildings for properly housing and 
caring for the state's dependents, its criminal classes, 
its schools, and courts, and university, must be 
erected, renewed and enlarged repeatedly. It is 
but just that railroad property should bear its share 
of such appropriations. 

The railroad companies under the license fee 
system have no interest and no concern respecting 
the money appropriated by the legislature. It is a 
fact within the knowledge of every legislator of ex- 
perience that the influence of the railroad lobby is 
often employed to pass legislation resulting in an 
increase of general taxes in exchange for the votes 
of those interested in such appropriations to defeat 
other legislation obnoxious to the railroads. Doubt- 
less millions of dollars have been unnecessarily ex- 

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70 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

pended through such combinations. This could not 
have occurred if the railroads had been taxed under 
the ad valorem system and possessed the same gen- 
eral interest that other taxpayers have in keeping 
appropriations within reasonable limits. 

But in addition to all of the other objections to 
the license fee system, when it is remembered that 
they are permitted in effect to fix the amount of the 
taxes which they will pay, without any practical 
check or supervision by the state, no excuse or 
justification can be given for continuing a plan of 
taxation so unjust to other taxpayers of the state. 
Investigations which have been conducted by the 
interstate commerce commission in the courts leave 
no room to doubt that millions of dollars are paid 
back to shippers in rebates under arrangements 
deemed advantageous, directly and indirectly, to 
both the railroads and the favored shippers. That 
these rebates in Wisconsin alone amount to* vast 
sums of money annually is beyond dispute. Not 
one dollar of this sum rebated to shippers, and 
properly a part of the gross earnings of railroad 
companies, is reported to the state. That a valid 
claim exists against the railroad companies for the 
amounts so withheld from their reported earnings, 
does not admit of question, whatever difficulties lie 
in the way of making proof of the same. I do not 
believe that you will fail to follow the recommenda- 
tions of the tax commission and abandon a system 
of taxation so obnoxious to every principle of fair- 
ness to those who must maintain government. 

Message to Legislature, 1903. 

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Taxation 72 

Results of Ad Valorem Tax 

The regulation bill did not pass at that session, 
(1903) nor did we expect it to pass. But the con- 
test accomplished the purposes we had chiefly in 
mind. It stirred the people of the state as they had 
never been stirred before, and laid the foundations 
for an irresistible campaign in 1904. It also gave the 
lobby so much to do — as we had anticipated — ^that 
it could not spend any time in resisting our meas- 
ures for railroad taxation. It also forced some 
members of the legislature who were really opposed 
to us, and who intended to vote against the regula- 
tion bill, to vote with us on the taxation bill as a 
bid for the favor of the people of their districts. 

So, at last, after all these years of struggle, we 
wrote our railroad tax legislation into the statutes 
of Wisconsin. As an immediate result, railroad 
taxes were increased more than $600,000 annually. 
When I came into the governor's office, on Jan- 
uary I, 1901, the state was in debt $330,000 and had 
only $4,125 in the general fund. But so great were 
the receipts from our new corporation taxes, and 
from certain other sources, that in four years' time, 
on January i, 1905, we had paid off all our indebt- 
edness and had in the general fund of the treasury 
$407,506. We had so much on hand, indeed, that 
we found it unnecessary to raise any taxes for the 
succeeding two years. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

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Railroad Commission a l^ecessity 

HE duty which confronts this legisla- 
ture respecting this phase of railroad 
legislation is two-fold : First, to enact 
a law creating a state railway commis- 
sion with full authority to act in the 
premises, and second, to so advise the representa- 
tives of Wisconsin in the United States senate and 
house of representatives by memorial, and in such 
other ways as may tend to impress them with this 
importance, that the business interests of Wiscon- 
sin demand that the oft-repeated appeal of the inter- 
state commerce commission, supported as it has 
been by the messages of the president, for author- 
ity to regulate rates and prevent discriminations^ 
should be promptly given to the inter-state com- 
merce commission. 

Upon the necessity of the establishment of a 
commission to protect the shipping interests of 
Wisconsin, there would seem to be no need of argu- 
ment. The rates in themselves make the demand 
stronger than any form of words can express it. 
It must come, and it ought to be the care of those 
charged with the responsibility of making the law, 
that Wisconsin should not be compelled to travel 

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Railroad Control 73 

over the same ground, by the same devious and cir- 
cuitous route which the resisting railroad companies 
have compelled other states to take. We should in 
this, as in all other matters, secure the benefits and 
advantages accruing from the ripe experience of 
other states and step out abreast of those enjoying 
benefits derived from many years of experience. 
And if in any respect it is possible for us to improve 
upon the legislation of any state by combining the 
best factors, or improving upon the systems of all, 
it is our duty so to do. 

By providing that the .commissioner of railroads 
elected under the existing laws shall be a member 
of a state commission, and that at the expiration of 
his present term of office, the elective member of 
the commission shall be elected for a term of six 
years, and hy further providing that the two re- 
maining members of the board shall be appointive 
officers, appointed by the executive, subject to con- 
firmation by the senate, the terms of the two ap- 
pointed commissioners to expire in two and four 
years respectively," and thereafter that their suc- 
cessors shall be appointed for terms of six years 
each, would give to the state a commission to fix 
rates, combining the elective and appointive fea- 
tures, in support of which the strongest reasons can 
be urged. 

It would scarcely be possible for the law-making 
power of the state under a representative form of 
government to be more strongly obligated than is 
the law-making^ power of Wisconsin to write upon 
the statute books at this session of the legislature 
the necessary laws to secure the payment of taxes 

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74 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

in full due from the railroad corporations to this 
state. The railroad companies have by their own 
opposition made legislation for the establishment of 
a commission to regulate transportation rates a nec- 
essary concomitant of tax legislation, and added to 
this, investigation of existing transportation charges 
in Wisconsin has disclosed conditions making the 
appointment of a commission to regulate railroad 
rates an imperative necessity in the interests of 
the whole commonwealth. That these conditions 
have existed, as it cannot be doubted that they have, 
throughout many years but strengthens and makes 
more irresistible the demands for prompt action in 
accordance with the dictates of absolute justice 
and fair dealing as between these corporations and 
the people. It is not a case where some fatwitted 
genius may find a happy medium. It stands side 
by side with the people's cause for equal and just 
taxation, out in the open, clear as the sun at noon- 

Justice Must Apply to All Alike 

For many years with each recurring legislative 
session it has been the comforting assurance con- 
veyed to the people of this commonwealth that the 
relations existing between the people and the rail- 
roads were "pleasant" and "harmonious." It would 
indeed have been cause for congratulation had it 
been a fact that those relations were grounded upon 
conditions that were just to the people and the 
railroads alike. But if the people of Wisconsin are 
to pay a million dollars of railroad taxes annually 
in order to maintain pleasant relations with these 

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Railroad Control 75 

companies, and if they are also to pay many mil- 
lions of dollars a year in transportation charges 
more than other States pay for like service for the 
continuation of harmonious conditions agreeable to 
the railways, then it is high time that the people 
i of Wisconsin see to it that instead of "pleasant" 

i and "harmonious" relations of that character, there 

j should be established sound business relations based 

upon business principles of exact justice to public- 
i service corporations and the citizens as well. 

i We know from the experience in other states, we 

I have learned the lesson in a way to remember here 

in Wisconsin, that these measures cannot be se- 
j cured without encountering the most vigorous op- 

i position from the railroad interests. It may be quite 

I as well for us to be admonished at this time that 

opposition to the establishment of a commission to 
regulate transportation rates will not be limited to 
the corporation and their lobby agents before the 
legislature. They will be able to summon to their 
j support every shipper in Wisconsin who is, or who 

thinks he is, at this time receiving some special 
favor or concession from the railroads, or who has, 
or thinks he has, assurance which will give him ex- 
ceptional rates and advantages over his rivals and 
competitors in business for the future. The ship- 
pers will be able through organized effort to make 
their influence felt as a commanding one, but it is 
well for us to remember that we stand here repre- 
senting the interests of all the people of Wiscon- 
sin, the thousands of merchants and manufacturers 
who are not receiving special rates and concessions, 
and the hundreds of thousands of producers and 


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76 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

small shippers who are being grossly wronged in 
the millions of dollars exacted from them in exces- 
sive and exorbitant transportation charges, year 
after year. 

They are entitled to an equal chance with the 
merchants and manufacturers and farmers of ad- 
joining States. I submit that it is our duty to se- 
cure this for them and to secure it now. 

Message to Legislature, 1903. 

Granger Legislation and Railway Regulation 

The Potter law was repealed in the early part 
of 1876, after having been in force less than two 
years. The reasons for this are not far to seek. 
The law, as explained, was the subject of con- 
stant attack. It was lied about early and late. 
Newspapers were more influential then than they 
are now in Wisconsin. In consequence of the 
constant assaults upon the law, many came to the 
conclusion that it was really bad. They reasoned 
that where there was so much smoke, ther must be 
some fire. Some reaction always follows every suc- 
cessful achievement, and the railroads relied upon 
the usual abatement of interest. The public having 
seen to it that the laws were placed upon the stat- 
ute books, felt that its responsibility had been dis- 
charged, and in security turned its attention to pri- 
vate affairs. With the people generally, the ques- 
tion was taken to be settled. Furthermore, as the 
railroads were not observing the law, many of the 
worst abuses continued. This also had its effect, 
and caused disappointment on the part of many who 
had otherwise been hearty supporters of the prin- 

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Railroad Control 77 

ciple. The railroads took advantage of this situa- 
tion, and in the preceding election, with men active 
in every assembly and senatorial district they were 
able to elect members who favored the repeal of the 
statute. Accordingly, the present commissioner 
system was substituted for the Potter law. 

The repeal of the Potter law is now generally re- 
garded as a mistake by the best modern writers on 
the railway problem. It has at last dawned upon 
them and others that the law was just, and that, 
above all, it was a step in the right direction. It 
did not do away with discriminations. But this was 
because the roads declined to observe the law, and 
because adequate machinery for its enforcement had 
not been provided. The practice of discriminations 
against both persons and places had already become 
so firmly rooted in the policy of the roads, that 
nothing but the most vigorous sort of enforcement 
by the best men, and the most stringent of laws 
could have abolished it. To expect that this power, 
so dear to the officers of the roads, could be taken 
from them, by simply making it illegal, was irra- 
tional. More than this is required. Discrimination 
will never be abolished until the state takes com- 
plete control of the rate-making power. 

But even if the Potter law did not accomplish all 
that was expected of it, it taught railway managers 
many useful lessons. They learned for the first 
time that there was a higher authority. This lav\^ 
also brought the question before the courts, and 'by 
the decisions that followed, all doubt was forever 
removed as to the authority of the state to fix rates 
and exercise control over the railroads. This alone 

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78 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

was probably worth many times more to the people 
than the cost of the movement. 

A law such as that adopted at the last session of 
the legislature, providing for assessing the prop- 
erty of railroads in Wisconsin at full value, and 
taxing them upon that value at the same rate which 
other taxable property in the state bears, and thus 
compelling them to pay from ten to twelve hundred 
thousand dollars additional taxes, would be of little 
value to the state if the railroad companies are at 
liberty to add enough to the freight rates paid by 
the people of Wisconsin to compensate them for 
the ten or twelve hundred thousand of dollars of 
additional taxes. That they could readily increase 
the freight charges upon the producers and con- 
sumers of Wisconsin without let or hindrance under 
existing law, no man will for one moment dispute. 
That this would be the course which they would 
pursue, if not prevented by additional legislation, 
was openly threatened by their lobbyists during 
the legislative session of 1901. 

Railroads Fight Freight Reductions 

Therefore the people of this state must either 
tamely submit, and allow the railroad companies to 
go untaxed to the amount of a million or more an- 
nually, or provide against their regulating freight 
charges within this state at their pleasure, regard- 
less of public interest and public justice. 

That for several years, and until very recently, 
freight rates have been gradually advanced in this 
state, every student of the subject well knows. 
That it was the fixed intention of the railroad of- 

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Railroad Control 79 

ficials controlling traffic rates in this state to make 
advances until less than a year ago, there is un- 
mistakable proof. When submitting their bids to 
the state board of control for furnishing coal to the 
state institutions of Wisconsin less than a year ago, 
coal dealers were warned directly from the railroad 
offices to submit their bids conditioned upon an in- 
crease in freight charges. And the bids were sub- 
mitted subject to variation with reference to freight 
charges. This was the first time that such an inti- 
mation had been received by the coal dealers bid- 
ding for state business, and the first time that such 
bids were ever made in that form. 

The attention, of the legislature was directed to 
that fact by special message, which I submitted, and 
the recommendation was made that if no law could 
be passed creating a railway commission with au- 
thority to reduce rates generally in Wisconsin to 
a reasonable basis, at least the legislature ought, in 
fairness to the people and to protect them against 
increased transportation charges as an offset by the 
railroads against increased taxation of their prop- 
erty, to pass a law prohibiting the possibility of 
such advance being made. 

The attorneys and lobbyists of these railroads had 
previously placed themselves on record before that 
same legislature, while opposing the establishment 
of a commission to reduce transportation charges, 
as being satisfied with existing rates. They further 
protested before legislative committees that no ad- 
vance was contemplated in Wisconsin. It neverthe- 
less is true that immediately following the presenta- 
tion of the message recommending a law prohibit- 

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8o La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

ing any increase in freight charges, there was, with- 
in twenty-four hours, sent from the general freight 
departments in Chicago of the principal railroads 
in Wisconsin, telegrams to their agents along their 
lines in this state directing them to cause local 
merchants and shippers to sign telegrams addressed 
to their assemblymen to vote down the measure 
recommended by the -governor. 

Publicity Spoils Sinister Game 

If they contemplated no increase in transporta- 
tion charges why, then, did they warn the coal deal- 
ers bidding for the large coal business of the state ? 
Why, then, did their attorneys and lobbyists oppose 
the passage of a bill that' merely would have pre- 
vented such an increase? Why, then, did they 
summon all of their station agents in this state to 
cause the local merchants and shippers at each sta- 
tion to flood the legislature with telegrams protest- 
ing against the measure designed to save those 
shippers and merchants from paying increased 
freight charges? 

Aye, but, says the leading organ of the corpora- 
tions of this state, with all the croaking from the 
executive office, warning the people that their trans- 
portation charges would be increased, no increases 
have been made and nearly a year has gone by. 

I answer that it would have been strange, indeed, 
after their plans had been exposed, after their secret 
warnings to their shippers have been made the sub- 
ject of executive message, after the telegrams which 
they had sent to their station agents throughout 
Wisconsin had leaked out and been printed in full. 

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Railroad Control 8i 

after every citizen of the state had been warned 
and made vigilant and every shipper was alert for 
the advances, with another legislative session ap-- 
preaching and the question still pending, it would 
have been strange indeed if the managers of these 
interests should have taken the chance of being 
detected in sliding up the scale of rates in Wiscon- 

In fact, there are some evidences of these corpora- 
tions being temporarily on their good behavior, and of 
their bearing just at this opportune time fruits meet 
for repentance. But, as will appear, I think, upon in- . 
vestigation and reflection, there is likewise special, 
reason for this, and small hope to believe that the. 
fruitage will be either a large or a steady crop. 

I am persuaded to believe that with the informal 
tion already before the people of this state upon the 
subject bearing on the control of railway transport 
tation ; with the clear knowledge they now have of 
the injustice which they have suffered for many 
years in the matter of railway taxation ; remember- 
ing that these corporations away back in 1899 Pub- 
licly promised before the legislature that if a bill 
to investigate the subject by a commission were 
passed instead of the bill to increase their taxes, 
they would pay promptly whatever was found to be 
due upon the report of that commission; with the- 
memory of their obstruction, delay, and defeat of 
taxation measures based upon and designed to 
carry out the recommendations of that commission, 
which they asked to have created at public expense, 
fresh in the public mind; with the assurance made 
doubly certain by their past record, that they will 

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8s La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

contest the assessment which the tax commission 
is now engaged in making and carry it to the su- 
preme court for its decision; — I say, knowing all 
these things, I do not believe that the people of 
Wisconsin will be misled or befooled by any plea, 
however, specious or plausible or conciliatory, com- 
ing from those whose record marks them as hostile 
to the interests of the taxpayers of this state. 

If the work of the years that have recently passed 
is not to be wasted, if the large sums of money al- 
ready spent on investigations pertaining to taxation 
shall not be squandered, if the producers and con- 
sumers of Wisconsin are to be saved from paying 
a million dollars of additional taxes for the railroads 
in the form of higher freight rates whenever the 
railroads deem it safe to increase these rates, then 
it will be because, and qnly because a railway com- 
mission, with full power to control frefght rates, 
stands between the railroads and the people of 

Speech at Milton Junction, on '[Granger 
Legislation," January 29, 1904. 

Granger Regulation not Destructive 

Any review or consideration of government reg- 
ulation of railway transportation must deal with 
state and federal regulation, in a measure, inde- 
pendently. The states were years in advance of the 
nation in moving for control of railway services and 
railway rates. As Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and 
Minnesota led in broadly asserting the right of the 
state legislature to control transportation rates and 
services, a consideration of the results attained in 

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Railroad Control 83 

these states is important and necessary to an in- 
telligent understanding of the whole subject. 

In the early '70's these states enacted legislation 
for the regulation of railroad transportation. The 
legislation was then designated, and will for all 
time be known as "Granger Legislation." The 
granger statutes were at that time and have ever 
since been violently denounced as radical, revolu- 
tionary, and a hindrance to the development and 
prosperity of the country. And yet the granger 
legislation in those four states of the Old North- 
west was simply a protest of a conservative and law- 
abiding people in the name of the law, against a 
railroad management which violated the rights of 
individuals without pretense of excuse or justifica- 

The granger statutes were far from perfect, es- 
pecially in respect to provisions for their enforce- 
ment. But they were essentially correct in prin- 
ciple and reasonable in their terms, so far as the 
railroads were concerned, and in so far as they 
sought to regulate services and rates between the 
public and the public-service corporations. They 
were in no sense "an unwarranted and irrational in- 
terference with the laws of trade and economic con- 
ditions." They simply applied a principle as old as 
the common law. They were enacted with the pur- 
pose of enforcing just and equitable rates to in- 
dividuals and communities. They expressed in 
legislation an effort to escape from arbitrary and 
tyrannical control on the part of common carriers. 

This was the first great struggle between the rail- 
roads and the public to determine which should be 


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84 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

master. It was a battle royal, and established as tHe 
law of this country the right of the people throug-h 
legislation to regulate transportation charges upon 
the railroads of the land. 

The ability with which the railroads conducted 
their opposition to the granger legislation is inter- 
esting and instructive at this time. It was an indi- 
cation of their sincerity and a measure of the value 
of their representations with respect to the disaster 
to the railway business and the industrial interests 
of the country, which they assert is certain to fol- 
low the legislation now proposed in some of the 
states for state regulation, and in congress for an 
enlargement of the powers of the interstate com- 
merce commission, as demanded by the people, and 
suggested by the president in his recent message to 

Alarmist Predictions Not Borne Out 

Upon the enactment of the granger laws, harrow- 
ing accounts of "Railroad Construction at a Stand- 
still," of the "Collapse of Railroad Business," the 
"Spoliation a!hd Ruin of Railway Property," and 
the "Checking of All Development in the Granger 
States" were published and re-published as the dire 
and awful consequences following as a logical re- 
sult of that legislation. 

. From the enactment of the law in Wisconsin un- 
til its repeal, two years later, when the railroads re- 
gained control of the legislature, and long after, the 
highest talent which money could command was 
eniplpyed iti assailing the Wisconsin law, and the 

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Railroad Control 85 

laws passed in Illinois, Iowa and , Minnesota, as 
Avell, and in misrepresenting the effect of the legis- 
lation upon railway and all other business within 
the state. Reports as to the financial condition of 
the roads were suppressed or destroyed, and the 
corporations caused to be published broadcast that 
not only had their business fallen off, but that they 
had been obliged to suspend all construction and 
injprovements, and that even maintenance of exist- 
ing lines was threatened, while the railroad busi- 
ness, and all other business dependent upon it, was 
prostrate and languishing in consequence of the 
legislation which "violated all the laws of trade." 

Even economic writers of eminence and fairness 
of purpose accepting the railroad figures then put 
forth and the railroad conditions then reported by 
the companies, were misled into partisan and vio- 
lent denunciation of granger legislation. In all of 
the criticism and attack made at the time, and 
since, it seems almost incredible that no independent 
investigation should have been made by any of the 
writers dealing with/ this subject. This is especi- 
ally true of those whose criticisms should have been 
based upon thoroughgoing and critical study, in 
conformity with the character of the work then and 
afterwards turned out by them as authors and 
writers upon economic subjects. Strangely enough, 
it is manifest that their argument was based upon 
false premises furnished, and misleading statements 
published by the interested railroad authorities. In 
so far as my research extends, I have been unable 
to find that any one of them ever made an inde- 
pendent, critical analysis of the facts involved. 

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86 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Notwithstanding all that has been written and 
the authorities which may be quoted to the con- 
trary, I venture here to declare that, in so far as the 
granger laws were enforced in either of the four 
states, they were helpful and not harmful to the 
interests of the state and of its citizens and of the 
railway companies as well. 

Speech, Milton Junction, Wisconsin, 1904. 

Government Control Vital 

No power other than the government itself is 
,equal to that of these industrial combinations al- 
ways in close association, and often identified in in- 
terest, with railroad and transportation companies. 
Their tremendous political influence is shown by 
the mere recital of the history of the interstate com- 
merce act, and by an examination of the records of 
congress for the last seven years. Which has had 
the stronger hold upon the state and national legis- 
lation during the last twenty years, the corporations 
or the people ? Whose interests have been the more 
safely guarded ? Where is the power lodged which 
' has for seven years been strong enough to bar na- 
tional lejgfislation, designed to enlarge the powers 
of the interstate commerce commission? It is not 
necessary to charge venality anywhere, but that 
the public-service corporations have been steadily 
undermining representative government in national, 
state and municipal legislation, no thoughtful man 
can qtu^stion. They come between the people, and 
the chosen representatives of the people. 

r would in no wise disparage either the rights or 
the interests of the railroad side of this legislation. 

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Railroad Control 87 

The question is one of very great magnitude. The 
amount of property involved is very large. The 
owners of railroads, and the holders of railroad 
securities must be protected in all of their rights. 
They must not be wronged in any way. They are 
entitled to such remuneration as will enable them 
to maintain their roads in perfect condition, pay the 
best of wages to employees, meet all other expenses 
incident to operation, and in addition thereto enough 
more to make a reasonable profit upon every dol- 
lar invested in the business. To preserve all of 
these rights, they are entitled to the strongest pro- 
tection which the law can afford. 

But the public, each community, and every in- 
dividual, has rights equally precious. Upon the 
railway companies rendering an adequate and im- 
partial service at reasonable rates, all general pros- 
perity is dependent. Deprived of either, every 
community is checked and limited in its growth; 
every business of whatever nature must languish 
and fail. The denial of an impartial service at rea- 
sonable rates, is the denial of equal opportunity, 
the denial of a square deal. 

Message to Legislature, 1904. 

Must Control Railroads 

Let it be remembered that the plan developed and 
consummated in building up the anthracite coal 
trust, the grain trust and the meat trust is indi- 
cative of the power of the railroads in combinations. 
There is not an important trust in the United States 
which does not have the assistance of the railroads 
in destroying its competitors in business. The 

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88 La Follcttc's Political Philosophy 

limitation and control of these public-service cor- 
porations within their legitimate field as common 
carriers is of primary importance in the practical 
solution of the trust problem which confronts the 
people of this country. It is manifest that any; 
trust legislation to be effective must go hand in 
hand with a control over railway rates by the fed- 
eral government on interstate commerce, through 
an enlargement of the powers of the interstate 
commerce commission, and a like control of rail- 
way rates on state commerce by each of the states 
through a state commission. Added to this, the 
railroad companies must be prohibited from using 
the extraordinary powers conferred upon them by 
the state for any other purpose than conducting 
efficiently and impartially the transportation busi- 
ness for which they were organized. 

When we consider the magnitude of the railroad 
question and the industrial question, and their com- 
bined influence upon industrial and political inde- 
pendence, it becomes apparent that it is impossible^ 
to overstate or exaggerate the dangers with which 
we are menaced. These great combinations of 
wealth, owning most of the natural produce of the 
earth, controlling what they do not own, created 
and nourished by the railways and in combination 
with them, are already making th'eir powerful in- 
fluence felt in municipal, state, arid national legisla- 
tion. More than all other national questions with 
which we have to dieal should this question be placed 
above party consideration. The sentiment of the 
American people is unanimous that it should be 
solved, not in any spirit of blind, irrational preju- 

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Railroad Control 89 

dice, but with an enlightened public policy that 
employs all the power lodged in state and federal 
government against the wrongful usurpation of the 
rights of the people. 

''Railway Regulation/' 1904. 


Carriers Have But One Duty 

Whenever and wherever persons engage in the 
business of public carrying the law says to them: 
"You must provide efficient service, you must be 
fair and impartial, your charges must be just and 
reasonable. Your legitimate function is transpor- 
tation. In your capacity as a public servant, you 
must know nothing of persons, things, or places. 
You are legally bound to treat all alike. Discrim- 
ination and favoritism are forbidden." 

While it has been commonly understood that the 
railways of the country have overridden law, and, 
in a measure, controlled legislation, it is doubtful 
v/hether any considerable number of the people of 
Wisconsin have until very recently had any con- 
ception of the enormity of the wrong which they 
have suffered in discriminating rates at the hands of 
railroads through this Commonwealth. 

Railroad transportation is a tax upon the com- 
merce of the country. It is a tax from which no one 
can escape. Every producer, every consumer, every 
man who buys, every man who sells, must pay rail- 
road transportation. It pervades every phase of our 
existence; it is a part of every hour of our daily life. 
It is an important element in the cost of our cloth- 
ing, our food, our fuel. It is a tax upon that which 
nourishes our intellectual and spiritual life as well. 

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go La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

the books we read, the schools and churches we 
build. It adds materially to the price of everything 
we purchase. Each article of manufacture, every 
pound of butter and cheese, or pork and beef, every 
produce of the soil, must pay its part of the forty- 
five millions and more that constitute the gross 
amount paid as transportation charges to the rail- 
roads of Wisconsin every twelve months. 

How essential it is that this tax imposed by the 
railroads should be fairly and justly levied. It must 
be just and reasonable in amount. It should be 
justly and fairly distributed. Each individual, every 
class of business, and every town, city, and section 
of the state is entitled to equitable transportation 
charges under a system which shall be open to pub- 
lic inspection and controlled by public justice in- 
stead of private interest. 

Message to Legislature, Jan, 15, 1903. 

Evils of Discrimination 

No man, no body of men, wrongfully amassing 
riches out of the toil and savings of others, ever 
v/illingly relinquished such tribute, no matter how 
unjustly levied. Throughout history the struggle 
has continued between the few, vigilant, aggressive, 
persistent, well organized, rich, and powerful, and 
the many, unorganized, though strong in individual 
numbers, and irresistible in concerted and continu- 
ous eflFort. The long possession of any power or 
source of gain, no matter how unjustly and unlaw- 
fully acquired or exercised, comes sooner or later 
to be regarded as rightfully belonging to the pos- 
sessor, whose indignation is at once aroused against 

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Railroad Control 91 

the man or the laws compelling the surrender of 
such power or source of gain. Legislation designed 
to require men and corporations to pay a just share 
ot the taxes in support of government is declared to 
be persecution. Argument and recommendation in 
plain, direct language in support of such legislation 
is denounced as violent and revolutionary. The pres- 
entation of evidence proving indefensible and un- 
just discrimination in the performance of a service 
to the public by a common carrier under every ob- 
ligation to deal with all alike, — a discrimination so 
unjust and so sweeping as to amount to a wrong 
against all the people of a great commonwealth, — 
the proof of this to the legislature and the public is 
decried as tending and intended to arouse prejudice 
and is complained of most bitterly as radical and 

There is an aphorism, the truth of which has long 
been accepted; that no member of that class which 
has always found difficulty in distinguishing as to 
the ownership of property, "e'er felt the halter draw 
with good opinion of the law" — or of the advocate 
of the law. 

Special Message to Legislature on State Regula- 
tion of Railroad Rates, April 29, 1903. 

Regulation a Duty 

The government has a duty to perform in the reg- 
ulation and control of railway transportation, be- 
cause the service is a public service and essentially 
a function of government. But there are other 

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92 La FoU^tte's Political Philosophy 

Thfi railway corporation is a natural monopoly. 
Its lines once established in a given territory nat- 
urally excludes other capital from investment in a 
field which it covers. People living along its line, 
and in the country tributary to it, .must market their 
products and receive their supplies over its road. 
They have no choice. The government had em- 
powered the railway company to take their land on 
which it has built its road. They must accept their 
services, or they must "walk." The government 
has placed the corporation in a position where, un- 
controlled, it can tyrannize over individuals and 
entire communities. It is therefore bound to pro- 
tect them against any wrong or injustice at the 
hands of its creatures. Nay, more, the government 
is under obligation to see to it that the corporation 
performs its full duty to all persons and all places, 
efficiently, impartially and upon reasonable terms. 
The government cannot divest itself of this re- 
sponsibility. One of the ablest of the United States 
Supreme Court judges, speaking for that court, 

"But a superintending power over the high- 
ways and the charges imposed upon the public, 
for their use, have always remained in the gov- 
ernment. This is not only its indefeasible right, 
but it is necessary for the protection of the people 
against extortion and abuse." 

The duty which the state owes to protect the 
commerce of the state, the federal government owes 
to protect the commerce of the country. 

Message, Railroad Regulation, 1904. 

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Railroad Control 93 

Wages ahd Rates 

Whenever the public complains that rates are un- 
justly increased, we are at once told in sweeping, 
though somewhat indefinite way that the advances 
have been made to meet increased expenses and 
higher wages paid to employees. The corporations 
well understand the public regard for all the men 
employed in this hazardous calling, and that such 
an explanation will go a long way to quiet criticism. 

It is true that material is somewhat higher. It is 
likewise true that the companies are paying higher 
wages or rather higher salaries. The total wages 
paid by the roads of late years have increased, 
owing mostly to the increase in the number of men 
employed to handle the traffic or business. But the 
total wages per mile of road from 1897 ^o ^9^^ did 
not increase over 32 per cent which is a much lower 
ratio of increase than the increase in both gross and 
net earnings. 

Message, Railroad Regulation, 1904. 

Ownership As Alternative 

(Note: The following interview with Senator 
La Follette is taken from an unpublished -work 
dealing with the reform movement in Wisconsin:) 

About the time that La Follette was first elected 
governor he was visited by a man who had stumped 
the west for the people's party and who had been 
one of the "intellectuals" in the first Oregon move- 
ment in the 90's. Said the visitor: "Our movement 
has gone down; I am a man without a party." 

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g4 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

"The time for great souls is when all is lost," said 
La Follette; "You belong with us." 

"But I believe in the initiative and referendum. 
Can I be a republican and hold such views ?" 

"You can; I believe in them myself." 

"I am also for the popular election of senators." 

"So am I," said La Follette. 

"I also favor government ownership and control 
Qi railroads." 

"We may have to come to that ; but we must first 
obtain and try regulation. If that fails the people 
.will no doubt take over the common carriers." 

"But I am against monopoly-breeding tariffs, 
although I am a protectionist. Can I hold such 
views and still be a republican?" 

"I am also a protectionist, but favor a tariff that 
in general shall measure the difference between the 
cost of production at home and in the competing 
foreign countries." 

"I had not thought of tariff legislation in that 
light," said the visitor. "If I can be that kind of 
a republican I am with you." 

Government Control and Regulation of Railways 

Sir, I say to the Senate here today that nothing, 
absolutely nothing, can prevent the ultimate gov- 
ernment ownership of the railroads of this country 
except a strict government control of the railroads 
of the country. 

There is today in the stock and bond valuation of 
the railroads of this country upward of seven bil- 

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Railroad Control 95 

lions of water. If the American people are expected ' 
to continue to pay transportation charges that will 
make a return upon that valuation, the temper of 
the people of this country is not understood here. 
Until there is invested in this commission or some 
other authoritative body the power to determine 
the real, true valuation of the railroads of this 
country and the authority to fix rates so that they 
shall bear only a fair return upon that fair value, 
senators may as well understand now that you will 
have this question constantly before you. It will 
not be possible to suppress it or keep it within the 
closed doors of committees for nine years to come. 
At every session, until an adequate measure is 
adopted, while I remain a member of this body the 
demand will be made here for legislation that will 
insure to the people of every state fair treatment at 
the hands of the common carriers of the country. 
Speech in U, S, Senate, 

April 19-21, 1906. 

Valuation as Basis in Rate-Making 

Mr. President, there is no reason for us to hesi- 
tate. You cannot wrong the railroads in this mat- 
ter. The courts will not permit it. They guard the 
property of the railroads at every step. All the 
decisions of the supreme court from 1870 down to 
the present time stand like a bulwark, like a breast- 
work, like a stone wall around the railroad property. 
It is not in the power of congress, it is not in the 
power of any state legislature to do harm or wrong 
to a railroad company in the states or in the United 
States. I repeat, the courts will not permit it. 

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96 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Here is a fair, plain proposition, one so simple 
that it seems to me no man can hesitate to accord it 
his support; and I appeal to the senate to put on 
the records after all these years this rule of meas- 
uring reasonable rates and of ascertaining the true 
value of the property of railroads for that purpose 
sanctioned by the supreme court of the United 
States, urged by the interstate commerce commis- 
sion for a decade, and approved by the judgment 
and conscience of this country. 

The amendment provides for a valuation from 
time to time covering extensions and improve- 
ments. It is necessary, if we are to follow the rule 
of the supreme court and are to deal fairly by these 
companies, that we should make and maintain a 
valuation that completely covers the property, and 
it is necessary, if we are to deal fairly by the public, 
that we should not leave it to the railroads to fix 
the value of their property at any sum which they 
choose to name. 

It is the duty of this government, Mr. President, 
to see that the people of this country receive reason- 
able rates, impartial rates, and adequate services. 
These three things belong to the public at the hands 
of every transportation company that is given a 
franchise, and the government owes it to the public 
to guarantee those three things — reasonable rates, 
impartial rates, and adequate services. On the 
other hand, it owes it to the railroad company to 
see that it has a fair return on the fair value of its 
property — no more and no less. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, 

May 31, 1910. 

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Railroad Control 97 

To Strengthen Railway Bill 

Mr. President, the people protest against the ever 
increasing burdens of railway transportation. They 
know enough of railroad finance to understand that 
there is no justification for advancing rates. They 
will not be satisfied with the postponement of rate 
increases for a few months. They cry out with one 
voice for substantial and permanent relief. They 
want justice from their government. 

No man who has vision and outlook can fail to 
see what is coming in this country unless these 
great and powerful organizations are brought into 
subjection and control. Within a decade and a half 
we have seen competition in all the industries wiped 
out and markets and prices placed under a common 
control. Within the same period of time we have 
seen the railroad lines consolidate and merge until 
there is scarcely a trace of competition left in trans- 
portation. There is nothing to stay the increased 
cost of living except the ability of the consumer to 
pay. Need anybody marvel at the public unrest — 
the growing feeling of resentment ? 

Mr. President, with all of the improvement we 
have been able to make in this bill, to me it is a 
matter of deep and profound regret that we still 
fall far short of having discharged our plain duty to 
the people who trust us to represent them in this 
body. Every senator on this floor knows that the 
interstate commerce commission is powerless to do 
the very things for the public which the law im- 
poses upon the commission as a duty. We require 
the railroads to file with the commission all changes 

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98 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

ill rates, ostensibly to enable the commission to 
keep some check upon rate changes. Then we re- 
fuse to equip the commission with sufficient help 
to enable it to examine a fraction of one per cent of 
the rate schedules filed with it week after week. 

More than 5,000 men, the best and highest paid 
men in the railway service, are making rates, work- 
ing out an increase here, another there; watching 
the tonnage and pushing transportation charges a 
notch higher wherever the traffic will bear the 
burden. And Congress furnishes the commission 
of seven men one cheap, low-priced clerk to check 
over the work of 50 high-priced rate experts em- 
ployed by the railroads. We require' the commis- 
sion to fix reasonable rates, and then vote down an 
amendment to authorize them to get the value of 
railway property, without which they cannot take 
the first step to ascertain reasonable rates. Sir, it 
is a travesty — a farce. It is more than that — it is a 
betrayal of those who have confided in us ; of those 
who honor us. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, 191 1. 

On Esch-Cummins Railway Bill 

Long before we entered the war, the railway 
transportation system of the country was on the 
verge of total collapse through mismanagement and 
corruption. The railroads from the beginning were 
grossly over-capitalized, and the public was burd- 
ened with constantly increasing rates to pay divi- 
dends on watered stocks. Added to this, the rail- 
roads were unlawfully permitted to collect from the 

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Railroad Control 99 

public a further excessive rate for the accumula-^ 
tion of billions in surplus. Out of these vast sums, 
thus wrongfully levied upon traffic and pocketed 
as surplus, the railroads built extensions and made 
permanent improvements. They then over-capital- 
ized these improvements as a basis for further 
wrongful exactions from the public. 

Moreover, the managers openly robbed the rail- 
roads from the inside. Construction and supply 
companies were organized by railway officers and 
managers. From these companies the railroads 
bought supplies of all kinds at exorbitant prices. 
Unrestrained greed exacted such profits on pur- 
chases by these insiders from themselves that there 
was always a shortage of funds for properly equip- 
ping the roads. This inside graft ate up the reve- 
nues of the railroads and furnished a perennial ex- 
cuse for still further increasing rates upon the pub- 
lic. It goes without saying that a transportation 
system honeycombed with official graft and dis- 
honesty was certain to be supplied — in so far as 
supplied at all — with inferior and defective equip- 

The result was inevitable. When the European 
war came on, with its stimulus to increased pro- 
duction and traffic, the roads, already short of en- 
gines, cars and all manner of equipment, at once 
disclosed the rottenness and inefficiency of the 
v/hole transportation system. By the summer and 
fall of 1916 — montfis before we entered the war — to 
quote Director General McAdoo, "they had reached 
such a point that traffic was almost paralyzed, 
through inability to furnish but a small part of the 

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100 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

cars necessary for the transportation of staple ar- 
ticles of commerce." 

When in 19 17 the government was forced to seize 
the roads it took over a ramshackle and utterly de- 
moralized railway system. The operation of rail- 
roads in such a state of disrepair was very expensive 
and wasteful under the most favorable conditions 
and excessively so under the extraordinary demands 
the war imposed. 

We are now urged to enter upon another pro- 
tracted period of attempting to combine the conflict- 
ing and warring elements of private ownership and 
public regulation. If our past experience teaches us 
anything, is it not plain that this means another era 
of enormous profits for the private owners at the 
cost of an enormous and unwarranted expense to 
the public? 

Is it rational to believe that in a few short months 
a small group of senators and representatives — no 
one of us an expert in railway transportation — has 
discovered some magic by which the miserable fail- 
ures of seventy years are to be converted into a 
marvelous success? 

Speech in U, S, Senate, 19 19. 

Esch-Cummins Bill Analyzed 

No more important measure ever came before the 
senate of the United States for consideration. Yet 
public hearings were held upon the bill before the 
committee which framed it, and not one-fifth of the 
members of the senate have been in their seats 
during the few sessions that the bill has been de- 
bated in the senate. 

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Railroad Control loi 

The bill is at once revolutionary and reactionary. 
All its essential features are to be found in the plans 
submitted by the committee of railway executives 
and the committee of railway security holders, and 
they were opposed with substantial unanimity by 
the labor organizations, farm organizations, and 
representatives of various other organizations that 
were accorded a hearing before the interstate com- 
merce committee. 

Instead of the preposterous scheme of railway 
legislation embodied in this bill which I have only 
hastily sketched, I propose simply that the railroads 
shall stay where they are under federal operation 
for some years to come. I suggest that the period 
be five years after the termination of the war. I 
understand that both the former and the present 
director general of the railroads favor the continu- 
ation of government operation for the same period. 
Within that time we can give government operation 
a fair trial. 

La Follette's Magazine, December, 1919. 

The Iniquity of the Esch-Cummins Law 

I shall presently show how the whole system of 
railway accounting has been built up with a view 
of concealing these illegal transactions and of con- 
cealing the earnings of the railways from year to 
year up to the present time. Sir, I should not care 
to trespass upon the time of the Senate, to present 
the facts of the false and fraudulent capitalization of 
the railroads of these earlier years, except that the 
villainous system still survives. 

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I02 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

You may dull your ears to that, you may deaden 
your consciences to it, you may set your face to g*o 
through with this thing no matter what the show- 
ing or what the argument, but let me say to you 
that you will not bury this fraud by your votes to- 
day. Like Banquo's ghost, it cannot be buried. It 
is an iniquity that will live until the scales of justice 
are fairly balanced. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, on Railroad Control, 

December 20, 1919. 
The Darkened Glass 

MR. McCORMICK, Mr. President— 

tor from Wisconsin yield to the Senator from Illi- 


MR. McCORMICK. I only wanted to observe 
that there are some of us who perhaps have as little 
taste for this bill as the Senator from Wisconsin, 
but we do not see clearly to the end of the passage 
along which he would lead us. We see "through a 
glass darkly," as the Scripture has it. 

MR. LA FOLLETTE. I know. I do not wonder 
at that. The railroads and the railroad press have 
been darkening that glass for two years and distorting 
the facts through it. If the Senator could have the 
patience to follow me, I believe that I can produce 
facts here that will entirely sustain my proposition 
to leave this matter for at least two years in the 
hands of the Federal Government. 

It has been admitted by practically every speaker 
in behalf of this bill — I think by every speaker— 
that it will be three years before the interstate 

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Railroad Control 103 

commerce commission can report upon railroad 
valuation. In the meantime the book value, as I 
contend, must be accepted; and. Senators, the re- 
marks in behalf of this bill of all except the Senator 
from Iowa (Mr. Cummins), clearly show that they 
expect book value to be accepted, and they are argu- 
ing for the validity of book value ; and never before 
this session did anybody ever argue, here or at any 
other place, unless he was a retained attorney for 
the railroad companies before the interstate com- 
merce commission, for the validity of book value. 
Speech, U, S. Senate, on Railroad Control, 
December '20, 1919. 

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The Greatest of Issues 

HERE is just one issue before the 
country today. It is not trust regula- 
tion. It is not banking and currency. 
It is not tariff. It is not railroad regu- 
^ lation. It is not conservation. These 
and other important questions are but phases of 
one great conflict. 

Let no public servant think he is not concerned ; 
that his state or his constituency is not interested. 
There is no remote corner of this country where 
the power of special interest is not encroaching 
on public rights. 

Let no man think this is a question of party 
politics. It strikes down to the very foundation of 
our free institutions. The system knows no party. 
It has long supplanted government. Without risk 
of being misunderstood, at least by those of whom I 
speak, I may say that I know something of the 
sentiment of the people of this country. 

There is no difference of opinion among them as 
to existing conditions and causes underlying it all. 
In Wisconsin, and from New York to the Pacific 
States, the people hold one opinion, have one con- 
viction. They are deeply concerned. They under- 
stand. Men back of the system seem to know not 
what they do. 

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Trusts and Monopolies 105 

In their strife for more money, more power — 
more power, more money — there is no time for 
thought, for reflection. They look neither forward 
nor backward. Government, society, and the indi- 
vidual are swallowed in the struggle for greater 
control. The plain man living the wholesome life 
of peace and contentment has a better prospective, 
a saner judgment. He has ideals and conscience 
and human emotions. Home, children, neighbors, 
friends, church, schools, country, constitute life. He 
knows very definitely the conditions affecting the 
rights guaranteed him by the constitution, but he 
longs for expression, he longs for leadership. 

Blind, indeed, is he who does not see what the 
time portends. He who would remain in public 
service must serve the public, not the system. He 
must serve his country, not special interests. 

La Follette's Magazine, July 11, 19 14. 

Failure of Anti-Trust Laws 

The operation of federal and state anti-trust and 
conspiracy laws has been productive of flagrant 
inequalities. The laws have been circumvented by 
the most dangerous and powerful of monopolies and 
trusts, which, through their control of banks, money 
and credit centered in Wall- street, are able to con- 
trol the natural resources, the food, clothing and 
highways of the nation. The money power taking 
refuge under corporation law, in order to defy or 
evade the conspiracy laws, has crushed competitors 
and has built up financial monopolies in the interest 
of speculators and against the interest of bona fide 
investors, producers, wage-earners and farmers. 

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io6 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

These very laws that have .failed to prevent finan- 
cial and industrial monopoly have been used to sup- 
press the unions and co-operative efforts of wage- 
earners and farmers in their struggle to protect the 
value of their labor against moneyed interests. 
Under the pretense of equal treatment of capital 
and labor, the farmer and the laborer whose capital 
is their labor and their savings from their labor, 
have been compelled to pay toll to those whose 
capital is their political power and their power to 
withhold money and credit from the commerce and 
industry of the country. 

Republican State Platform, 1910. 

Unions and Farmers' Organizations 
Should Be Exempt 

We favor such classification of unions, associa- 
tions, monopolies, trusts and corporations as shall 
abolish this pretense and shall establish real equal- 
ity before the law. Where monopoly is inevitable 
we favor complete regulation by government. But 
we are opposed to any change in the laws against 
trusts and monopolies except as herein stated, until 
the people have regained control of government, 
and have been able to assert complete control over 
all questions of monopoly and corporation law. 
Republican State Platform, 19 10. 

Price Control and Restraint of Trade Criminal 

The evils to be reached by legislation on trusts 
and monopolies are such combinations and con- 
federations as are organized to control prices, create 

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Trusts and Monopolies 107 

monopolies and destroy competition, or which, in 
their practical working, have that effect. 

It is not because a corporation has a large capital 
or transacts a large and profitable business that it is 
an injury to the community or a menace to its pros- 
perity. On the contrary,! ;the development and 
growth of modern business have made large aggre- 
gations of capital absolutely necessary, and such 
capital is fairly entitled to a reasonable legitimate 
profit. The wrong is. done and the injury inflicted 
when such combinations of capital are enabled, by 
means adopted for that purpose, to control prices, 
stifle competition, and create a monopoly. 

I think legislation should be adopted providing 
that, if any corporation organized under the laws 
of this or any other state, or any partnership or as- 
sociation of individuals, or any individuals, shall 
enter into, or become a member of, or a party to, 
any trust, agreement, combination, partnership, per- 
son, or association of persons, to regulate or fix the 
price of any commodity or to limit the amount of 
any commodity to be manufactured, mined, sold, 
transported or placed on sale or disposed of, or to 
do, or to refrain from doing, any other thing with 
the intent to control and fix the price of any com- 
modity to be manufactured, mined, sold or trans- 
ported in this state, such corporation and the officers 
and agents thereof, and such partnership, individ- 
uals and associations of persons, shall be deemed 
guilty of a conspiracy to defraud, and shall be sub- 
ject to such prosecution and punishment and such 
penalty or forfeiture as may, in the judgment of the 
legislature, be proper. 

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io8 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Such enactment should also cohtain suitable pro- 
visions making all such contracts and agreement^ 
void, and provide machinery for the collection of 
such penalties and forfeitures and for the annulment 
of the charter of such offender, if a domestic cor- 
poration, and for the forfeiture of the right to do 
business in this state if a foreign corporation, and 
imposing such penalties on the individuals con- 
victed of violating the law, as may be appropriate. 
Message to Legislature, 1901. 

The "Interests" or the People? 

It seems to me now, as I look back upon those 
years, that most of the lawmakers and indeed most 
of the public, looked upon congress and the govern- 
ment as a means of getting some sort of advantage 
for themselves or for their home towns or home 
states. River and harbor improvements without 
merit, public buildings without limit, raids upon 
the public lands and forests, subsidies and tariffs, 
very largely occupied the attention of congressmen. 
Lobbyists for all manner of private interests, es- 
pecially the railroads, crowded the corridors of the 
capitol and the Washington hotels and not only 
argued for favorable legislation, but demanded it. 

At the time I was in congress, from 1885 to 1891, 
the onslaught of these private interests was reach- 
ing its height. I did not then fully realize that this 
was the evidence of a great system of "community 
of interest," which was rapidly getting control of 
our political parties, our government, our courts. 
The issue has since become clear. Whether it 

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Trusts and Monopolies 109 

shows itself in the tariff, in Alaska, in municipal 
franchises, in the trusts, in the railroads, or the great 
banking interests, we know that it is one and the 
same thing. 

And there can be no compromise with these in- 
terests that seek to control the government. Either 
they or the people will rule. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Positive Action on Trusts 

Foreign competition will not, therefore, cure the 
trust evil: indeed, it will encourage the movement, 
already strongly in evidence, toward the organiza- 
tion of international and worldwide monopolies. 

No, the constructive statesmen of those times 
saw clearly that there must be positive action of 
government either to prevent or to control monop- 
olies. Two very significant laws, both of which I 
supported heartily, were therefore passed in those 
years. In one of these — the Sherman anti-trust 
act — ^the keynote was prohibition, the effort to pre- 
vent combination and to restore competition by 
drastic laws. In the other, the act establishing the 
interstate commerce commission for the control of 
railroads, the keynote was regulation. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

The^ Making of America 
For, after all, the glory and achievement of our 
country is men, not things. We build railroads and 
bridges and factories and markets, and outstrip the 
nations of the earth in trade and commerce. And 
what does it all signify? lis it the mere indication 
ot the fatness of our land? or has it a deeper mean- 

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no La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

ing? Manifestly these material things represent 
the energy, the ingenuity, the intelligence, the cour- 
age, of four generations of men, inspired with the 
conviction that they were born free and equal. Take 
the spirit of our free institutions out of the life of 
this nation and we would be compelled to re- write 
the history of our material progress. No just con- 
ception of the making of America from the begin- 
ning, no rational understanding of her present and 
future, can ignore the relation of man to the ma- 
terial development of our country and the influence 
of modern business methods upon the citizen and 
his government. * * * 

So long as industry, thrift, prudence, and honesty 
underlie our vast material development, there is 
nothing to fear in the making of America. Every 
man who loves his country must rejoice to siee those 
basic qualities of good citizenship rewarded. There 
can be no national property without individual pros- 
perity. Property, whether the modest home of the 
artisan or farmer, or the great fortune of the mas- 
ters of finance, if it be honorably acquired and law- 
fully used, is a contribution to the stability of gov- 
ernment, as well as to material progress. * * * . 

The basic principle of our government is the will 
of the people. The representative elected by the 
people should be the people's representative. If the 
city alderman, the state legislator, the member of 
congress, or the United States senator represents 
privilege, he is not the servant of the people, but the 
servant of the special interest he represents. The 
people are not represented, but wealth in combina- 
tion. * * * 

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Trusts and Monopolies iii 

America is not made. It is in the making. It has 
today to meet an impending crisis, as menacing as 
any in the nation's history. It does not call a sound 
to arms, but it is none the less a call to patriotism 
and to higher ideals in citizenship, a call for the 
preservation of the representative character of gov- 
ernment itself. If we would preserve the spirit as 
well as the form of our free institutions, the patrio- 
tic citizenship of the country must take its stand, 
and demand of wealth that it shall conduct its busi- 
ness lawfully; that it shall no longer furnish the 
most flagrant examples of persistent violation of 
statutes, while invoking the protection of the courts ; 
that it shall not destroy the equality of opportunity, 
the right to the pursuit of happiness, guaranteed by 
th€ constitution ; that it shall keep its powerful hands 
off from legislative manipulation; that it shall not 
corrupt, but shall obey, the government that guards 
and protects its rights. 

Mere passive good citizenship is not enough. Men 
must be aggressive for what is right, if government 
is to be saved from those who are aggressive for 
what is wrong. The nation has awakened some- 
what slowly to a realization of its peril, but it has 
responded with gathering momentum. The reform 
movement now has the support of all the moral 
forces that the solution of a great problem can com- 
mand. The outlook is hopeful. There is no room 
for pessimism. Every man should have faith. Ad- 
vance ground has been secured which will never be 
surrendered by the American people. There is work 
for every one. The field is large. It is a glorious 
service, this service for the country. The call comes 

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112 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

to every citizen. It is an unending struggle to make 
and keep government truly representative. Each 
one should count it a patriotic duty to build at least 
a part of his life into the life of his country, to do 
his share in the making of America according to the 
plan of the fathers. 
Introduction to ''The Making of America," 1905. 

The People and Private Monopoly 

The American people believe private monopoly 
intolerable. Within the last dozen years trusts and 
combinations have been organized in nearly every 
branch of industry. Competition has been ruth- 
kssly crushed, extortionate prices have been exacted 
from consumers, independent business development 
has been arrested, invention stifled, and the door of 
opportunity has been closed, except to large aggre- 
gations of capital. The public has not, as a rule, 
received any of the resultant economies and bene- 
fits of combination which have been so abundantly 
promised. But ordinarily the combinations have 
demonstrated that the hand of monopoly is deaden- 
ing, and that business may as easily become too 
large to be efficient, as remain too small. And as 
related to government, it is everywhere recognized 
that trusts and combinations are today the gravest 
danger menacing our free institutions. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Crime of Guarantee of Profits. 
Private ownership and operation of the railroads 
was a demonstrated failure soon after we entered 
the European war. By December, 1917, the paraly- 
sis of the system was so extreme that the govern- 

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Trusts and Monopolies 113 

ment took possession and conducted operation to 
avert complete collapse of transportation and total 
disaster in the war. 

Shortly before the president seized the roads, 
England, France and Italy had notified him that 
by December first, owing to our failure to supply 
food to the allies, the Italian and French armies 
were short-rationed and would certainly revolt if 
further reduction in rations were made. 

Throughout our own country there was great suf- 
fering because of the failure of the railroads to move 
the traffic. Transportation was stalled. People 
could not obtain fuel and yet the railroad yards in 
all the great cities were literally jammed with 
loaded coal cars. Train loads of grain, provisions 
and general supplies blockaded the side tracks from 
the Atlantic seaboard to the Rocky mountains. 
There was a shortage of engines and cars on every 
road in the country. 

The end was in sight. The transportation of food 
and war munitions to sustain our own and the 
allied armies could not be longer delayed and escape 
utter disaster. The government was forced to act 
and to act at once. 

The failure of private ownership and operation 
had plainly been inevitable for years. It only re- 
quired the increased demands of war traffic to reveal 
the inherent weakness and hasten the failure of the 
entire transportation system under private owner- 
ship and operation. 

The primary cause of it all is as plain as a pike- 
staff : You cannot successfully yoke private monop- 
oly with an honest, impartial public service. The 

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114 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

whole railroad transportation system has from the 
beginning carried the enormous burden of a double 
capitalization. No business can overload itself with 
a fictitious capital account and maintain its property 
in a sound healthy condition. 

The railroads would have broken down and gone 
into receiverships decades ago but for the fact that 
they have been permitted to force from the public a 
return in exorbitant rates, sufficient to float their 
watered capitalization. 

And now it is proposed by the pending measures 
dealing with this vital problem — the Cummins Bill 
and the Esch Bill, — to perpetuate all the wrongs 
and oppression of this private monopoly under a 
scheme of guarantees to watered capital, that must 
inevitably burden the traffic of the country with 
increased rates, running into untold billions. 

This is the price which the public must pay to 
"re-establish railroad credit." 

Before we joined in a crusade with Great Britain 
to make Egypt and India and China and Ireland 
and the good old United States unsafe for democ- 
racy, before senators and representatives acquired 
the habit of voting the people's money out of their 
treasury like drunken sailors, these same public 
officials would have regarded support of the Cum- 
mins or the Esch Bills as a bargain with political 
suicide. But woe unto him who today dares ques- 
tion the merit or the magnitude of any raid on the 
treasury at the behest of the masters of private 
monopoly ! 

La FoUette's Magazine, January, 1920. 

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Trusts and Monopolies 115 

The Only Way Out 

Are the trusts and combinations stronger than the 
government itself ? That is the supreme issue. Can 
the people free themselves from this power? Can 
the unjust burden of fraudulent capitalization be 
lifted from them? 

The trusts and combinations, the railroads, the 
steel trust, the coal trust, all are scheming to secure 
some action by the government which will legalize 
their proceedings and sanction their fictitious capi- 
talization. The situation is critical. It may be 
expected from the attitude of the supreme court 
as shown in the Standard Oil and Tobacco cases, 
that any act on the part of the executive or the leg- 
islative branch of government, giving countenance 
to a trust or combination will be construed as an 
approval of the thousands of millions of watered 
stocks and bonds issued, and will fasten upon the 
people for all time the speculative capitalization of 
our public service and business corporations. 

The time is at hand to declare for a statute which 
shall make it everlastingly impossible for any presi- 
dent, or any congress, or any court, to legalize 
spurious capitalization as a basis of extortionate 

The progressive republican platform must take 
advance ground upon this question. 

La Follette's' Magazine, March 16, 1912. 

Against Court of Commerce 

This bill, Mr. President, is the boldest raid upon 
public rights, in the form of legislation on this great 

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zi6 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

subject, that the system has ever succeeded in forc- 
ing upon the serious consideration of congress. 

Never before has it attempted, with the support 
of the national administration and of the party in 
congress, to legislate for special privilege and 
against the public interest, and to foster irrevocably 
Upon the commerce of the country the public bur- 
den of transportation charges to pay interest and 
dividends upon all the watered stocks and bonds 
which unrestrained corporate greed has set afloat 
in the financial channels of this country. 

If the consolidation, combination, and merger, 
to which I shall invite the attention of the senate, 
was not a violation of the anti-trust law, and the 
attorney general has, in effect, so decided, then we 
might well strike from this bill the provisions which 
profess to save the anti-trust law from repeal as to 
interstate railroads, and openly confess the real pur- 
pose of this proposed legislation. 

Mr. President, if the federal anti-trust law can 
be repealed by a state legislature, if the department 
of justice at Washington will hold conferences with 
and lend countenance to the agents of law-breaking 
corporations while they are engaged in lobbying 
through state legislatures, a pretended sanction of 
their violation of the criminal statutes of the federal 
government, and then by official edict make such 
state statutes a shield and cover under which the 
criminal corporations may go unwhipped of justice, 
if the door of the federal court may thus be closed 
in the face of a wronged and outraged public by 
the attorney general of the United States, then, sir, 

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Trusts and Monopolies 117 

the law becomes a black art and justice a mere 
juggler's pawn. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, April 12, 1910. 

(Note — The extracts given above are from a nota- 
ble speech by Senator La Follette against the bill 
to create a court of commerce. It is sometimes 
called the New Haven railroad speech from the fact 
that he drew his arguments from the exploitation 
of this road.) 

The Non-Partisan League 

So, I have faith that this new movement up here 
known as the non-partisan organization, born on 
the farms of this old northwest territory, contains 
within it the seeds of a great social and political 
advancement. And, Mr. President, and fellow-citi- 
zens, ladies and gentlemen, I know you will pardon 
me for harking back to the old granger movement — 
I am constrained to believe that this new movement 
is another crop of the seed of that time. Now, fd- 
low-citizens, there would not be the slightest occa- 
sion in the world for the organization of a non-parti- 
san league ; and you would not be able to enlist the 
farmers of a dozen or fifteen or twenty states in 
this union unless there was something fundament- 
ally wrong with our government. There is some- 
thing fundamentally wrong with it. Of course, I 
know the fellows who are waving the flags today 
/most frantically, the bloated representatives of 
/ wealth who are shouting loudest for democracy 
today, ar^ trying to invest this particular time with 
a new form df democracy; a democracy that has 

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ii8 LoL Pollette's Political Philosophy • 

attached to it as a cardinal principle, not liberty, not: 
equality, but profit. 

Now, I do not take the political dope of any 
papers that serve interests hostile to representative 
government- Fellow-citizens, I come before you 
here tonight to talk to you particularly about this 
great movement you have adopted up here, and to 
give you a word of encouragement, to bid you to 
be brave, not to be intimidated because there may 
chance to be sneaking about here and there men 
who will pull back their coats and show a secret 
service badge. Until Bunker Hill is destroyed, until 
Little Round Top and the Hornet's Nest at Gettys- 
burg shall have been obliterated and relegated to 
oblivion, there shall be free speech in this country. 
Mr. President, I have stood all my life for law and 
order. Twenty years ago this very season at a 
little farmers' gathering in Fern Dell, Wisconsin, I 
opened the fight against corporate power in that 
state. I was denounced then as the non-partisan 
league has been denounced now. I was denounced 
then as an iconoclast and a destroyer of conditions 
that ought to be preserved just as some of the 
advanced thinkers of today are denounced for pro- 
claiming not a new doctrine, but the doctrine of 
Franklin and Madison and Adams and Thomas 
Jefferson. What was the central thought of the 
little speech I delivered on that day? It was only 
this, that the corporations in Wisconsin were not 
paying their fair share of the taxes, and that they 
ought to be made to pay them, just as the farmers 
and owners of lands did ; that was all, but that was 
considered treason, just as the same things are 

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Trusts and Monopolies izg 

denounced as disloyal today; but, fellow-citizens, 
I did not stop then, and I won't stop now. And 
then, twenty years ago, I was asking for justice and 
equality in government, in taxation, and, fellow- 
citizens, I came from Washington directly here, and 
on the floor of the house of representatives and in 
the committee on finance, the greatest committee 
in the senate, I have been struggling for this same 
thing that I struggled for down at the Fern Dell 
picnic in Wisconsin twenty years ago. There is 
not a shade of difference in principle. The only 
difference lies in the fact that where we in Wiscon- 
sin were considering thousands and hundreds of 
thousands, in this great government of ours and in 
the times in which we find ourselves now, we are 
considering billions upon billions beyond the power 
of the human mind to grasp ; that is the only differ- 
ence. A little handful of men in Washington have 
been demanding — only a little handful of men — 
have been demanding that the taxation should be 
laid according to the principles that prevail wher- 
ever justice prevails, that taxation shall be laid 
according to the ability of the property to meet the 
taxes. We have been contending for that principle 
in the first speech made on the 27th of August, 
1897, to a farmers' picnic in Fern Dell, Wisconsin, 
which opened the campaign that lasted through a 
decade or a decade and a half of time. 

Speech Before Minnesota Non-Partisan 

League, Sept. 20, 19 17. 

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120 La Follette's Political PhUosophy 

How Monopoly's Grip Could be Broken 

MR. KING. I was very much interested in the 
statement of the Senator. * * * I was glad to hear 
the Senator say — and I wish to see if I understand 
his position in that respect — ^that the Government 
cannot by attempting to fix prices effectuate the ob- 
jects so many people are seeking now to bring 
about; that if we would enforce the laws against 
trusts and monopolies and allow the free play of 
the law of supply and demand and the economic 
forces of the country, we should have nothing to 
fear with respect to the industrial freedom of the 
American people or the progress and growth and 
development of our country. Have I interpreted 
generally the attitude of the Senator? 

MR. LA FOLLETTE. Mr. President, of course, 
right out of hand on the moment one would hardly 
be expected, I suppose, more than to suggest reme- 
dies to restore to our people their industrial free- 

I want to see broken, first of all, this artificial 
power which controls prices and production by 
agreement and which, in violation of law, is able to 
dictate the market prices of raw materials and fin- 
ished products for practically all of the products of 
this country. I would break that power. 

I would enforce the law firmly and relentlessly as 
to the wrongdoers. 

I would press for the freedom of all business from 
unlawful control as rapidly as the business of the 
country could be readjusted to the natural laws of 

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Trusts and Monopolies 121 

I do not underestimate the magnitude of the task. 
The failure of every President to keep faith with' 
the people and enforce the law has aided to intrench 
lawless monopoly in business throughout the land. 

It has so long ruled in business ancj government 
that it scoffs at authority. 

It has had its way alike with Repilblican and 
Democratic administrations. 

It has its "rough-neck" daily press to manhandle 
any troublesome public official. It has its "high- 
brow" weekly and monthly publications which criti- 
cize in choice diction any suggestion of curing ex- 
isting evils by "putting a few gentlemen in jail" and 
then vaguely prescribe "a better adjustment of dis- 

But it is high time for us to realize that the pub- 
lic will not submit longer to be juggled with. The 
Government must soon make its choice. It must 
destroy private monopoly wherever it exists in this 
country or monopoly will destroy government. 

It will not be possible to restore industrial and 
commercial freedom at once. 

Unrestrained lawless wealth in combination has 
run amuck for a score of years, until it has so in- 
volved our entire industrial and commercial struc- 
ture that to attempt to effect a radical and immedi- 
ate cure would endanger the whole structure. 

But we must make a beginning. We must make 
that beginning at once if we would avert disaster. 

If I had the power, I would start with the United 
States Steel Corporation. I would begin there, be- 
cause iron is the basis of everything in the indus- 
trial life of any people on the face of the earth. 

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122 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

It is really staggering to think what iron means. ^ 
There is not a great architectural structure in the 
world that would be standing tomorrow morning if 
iron turned to dust overnight. * * * There would 
not be a railroad line anywhere, there would not be 
a wheel turning, there would not be a blacksmith 
shop stand, there would not be an agricultural im- 
plement in existence, if iron in all its forms were 
destroyed. Did you ever stop to think of the extent 
to which the price of iron and its products controls 
the price of everything? 

So I would begin with iron. I would take the 
actual valuation of all of the property of the United 
States Steel Trust. I would ascertain the actual 
investment in the business. I would not give them 
credit for a dollar of value which is the result of 
their monopoly control, but only that which they 
had actually invested in the business, together with 
a fair return upon the investment. 

Then, Mr. President, taking their actual invest- 
ment in their manufacturing plant and allowing 
them a reasonable return on the investment, I would 
make public a fair and reasonable price list on their 
manufactures — pig iron, billets, merchantable iron 
and steel rails, structural shapes — all their manu- 
factures of iron and steel, and would allow a rea- 
sonable measure of time for public opinion to en- 
force an observance of such fair and reasonable price 

Their failure to adjust the selling prices of their 
manufactures of steel and iron to the fair-price list 
published by the Government would invite to more 

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Trusts and Monopolies 123 

drastic action by the Government in dealing with 

But, sir, I would proceed in a much more radical 
way as to their raw material. 

I would condemn and take away from them such 
of their holdings as would be called raw material — 
or natural resources. I would have the Government 
take back the title to its iron ore and coal and cop- 
per and timber and the other natural products. 
Then I would maintain such an absolute control 
ot the production and the prices of those basic pro- 
ducts, either by a strict leasing system or by actual 
Government operation, or both, that every manufac- 
turer, small as well as large, should have an equal 
opportunity to get the raw material at the same 
price. I would do that for the purpose of restoring 
competitive conditions at the very foundation of all 
manufactured production. 

I would apply the same method to all others who 
own the great primary products that may be called, 
in a general way, the resources of nature. I would 
have the Government hold the title to and maintain 
the absolute control of all these primary products. 
I would try, perhaps, operating them under a strong 
leasing system, under which the Government should 
control prices. 

But I would introduce a limited amount of Gov- 
ernment operation in various lines of production, 
to the end that we might have a measure, a stand- 
ard of fair production cost and fair selling price. I 
would try that as an initial proceeding for the ulti- 
mate achievement of industrial freedom. 

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124 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

That may be temporizing, but I would try that to 
give the old theory of individual initiative its fair 
chance, and if that experiment failed, then I would 
go after Government operation of all those basic 
essentials, absolutely ; and in the meantime I would 
not hesitate at all about Government control and 
ownership of all transportation and all lines of com- 
munication — everything of that character. 

I expect to stand here and make a fight alone for 
Government ownership and control of the railroads. 
I am for Government ownership of railroads and 
every other public utility — every one — and I pro- 
pose to show on this floor that where it has ever 
been given a fair chance in any part of the world 
that it has been successful. I am going to show 
that the "cards were stacked" on Government oper- 
ation here in this country during the war period by 
those who were interested and that it was not pos- 
sible for Government operation to make a fair show- 

I do not know whether I have answered the ques- 
tion of the Senator from Utah (Mr.' King) or not, 
but I have at least tried to do so frankly. ' 

' Speech in U, S. Senate, Aug, 29, 1919. 

Monopoly Cause of High Prices 

Do you not understand that * * * down to 26 
years'ago the price of every manufactured commod- 
ity that any body of organized society bought grad- 
ually declined? Why? Because methods of pro- 
duction were improved and there was competition 
between the producers that kept profits at a rea- 
sonable level. About 1897 they began to combine 

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Trusts and Monopolies 125 

to suppress competition and to control the markets, 
and from that hour, if you will consult the statistics 
for 20 years you will find that the price of every- 
thing you have had to buy has increased in this 
country. Why? Because combinations and trusts 
were formed to control the prices ; to take the bene- 
fits of the improvements for those who owned the 
factories and parasitical middlemen and to give 
none to the laborers, and to give none to the con- 

That is what this thing means ; that is the mean- 
ing of this great struggle. That is the biggest prob- 
lem that confronts you. It is not Shantung; it is 
not the League of Nations ; it is not the treaty made 
at Versailles ; but it is whether you can save democ- 
racy in the United States. That is the fundamental 
problem of the American people. The power that is 
trying to take the Naval Reserves is only one of the 
many that is encroaching upon the rights of the 
American people and upon their democracy. 

Mr. President, I say that it lies with the people of 
this country to settle this great problem and to settle 
it under the Constitution without violence. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, Aug. 29, 1919. 

Strikes and Monopoly 

We have strikes on every hand. Senators have 
attempted here by resolutions and by speeches on 
the floor to intimidate and to restrain labor and to 
restrict free speech in this country not only in time 
of war, but after. The American people are patient 
people, but it is possible to push things too far. I^ 
it not worth while for enlightened, conservative 

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126 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

statesmanship to stop and consider this situation so 
that effective steps can be taken to meet these is- 
sues? We must curb this mighty monopoly power 
and give to the people of this country a free, open, 
competitive market, and free, open, competitive con- 
ditions under which they may buy the products of 
all manufacturing and producing organizations in 
this country at reasonable prices regulated by com- 

Speech in f/. i". Senate, Aug. 29, 1919. 

Monopoly and Radicalism 

I have said on the floor of the Senate again and 
again that there is not any way of accounting for 
the increase in the cost of living excepting that we 
are in the grip of monopoly. You have built up, 
in the first place, a protective system and shut off 
foreign competition, and you have left it to the, fel- 
lows inside of the tariff wall to fix the prices and, 
by combination, they have fixed the prices as high 
as they pleased, and they have destroye'd competi- 
tion, and as a result of that they have taken out of 
the American public just what profits they pleased, 
and Congress has sat by and permitted that thing 
to be done. 

There is no justification for it. It is a betrayal of 
everything that goes to the heart of representative 
government. ,It has builded up the conditions that 
have led a committee of this Senate to put into this 
bill a proposition to appropriate $2,000,000 to sup- 
press radicalism in this country. Do you think you 
could have a government, representing just simply 
those who have an opportunity to take out of the 

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Trusts and Monopolies 127 

people of this country whatever prices they please 
for the things they produce, and not have criticism 
of your government? 

I say, Mr. President, right now that in 20 years 
this Government has not been representative of the 
public interests. I think that this Government has 
been representing the interests of combinations and 
trusts and great aggregations of capital and no man 
can successfully deny that. * * * I have said it a 
good many times on the floor of the Senate, and I 
am going to keep on saying it as long as I live, as 
long as I am a member of this body. 

Speech in [/. S, Senate, June 28, 1919. 

Prices and Cost of Production 

From 1897 down to the time that the war began, 
prices advanced every year on the products con- 
sumed in this country. Now, I say that is unjust, 
that is wrong, and this is so only because the Gov- 
ernment did not serve the people. * * * 

Senators draw their salaries, and sit behind these 
desks, and let this thing go on, and then pile law 
on law to repress criticism because it is so ! * * * 

I am not talking of the war period, but before the 
war, from 1897, down to the war period. * * * 
Study Dun's and Bradstreet's and you will find that 
it increased every year. Why should it increase? 
It increased because the Congress of the United 
States and the executive departments did not serve 
the public interests. * * * it increased because the 
aggregations of capital were permitted to defy the 
law of competition and fix prices as they pleased. 
Why? Why did not prices fall? Did you ever 

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128 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

know of a period of invention that was comparable 
to it? There never was. From 1897 down to the 
year 1914 Yankee ingenuity and invention revolu- 
tionized the cost of production, and yet the prices 
increased upon the people of this country. Tell me 
if you were doing your duty and the executive de- 
partment was doing its duty, when you had a law 
on the statute books that said that there should be 
no control of prices against public interest; why 
were these combinations permitted to ignore and 
idef y the law ? You cannot name to me a single in- 
dustry in the United States that has not cut the 
cost of production in two again and again from 
1897 down to 1914, and yet the cost to the consumer 
has mounted steadily every year. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, June 28, 19 19. 

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The Dignity of Manual Labor 

; HAVE always had respect for the man 
who labors with his hands. My own 
life began that way. Manual labor, 
industry, the doing of a good day's 
work, was the thing that gave a man 
standing and credit in the country neighborhood 
where I grew up. We all worked hard at home, 
and the best people I ever knew worked with 
their hands. I have always had a feeling of kinship 
for the fellow who carries the load — the man on 
the under side. I understand the man who works, 
and I think he has always understood me. 

Autobiography, 19 13. 

Protection to Railroad Employees 

To your careful consideration I recommend the 
question of more efficient protection to employees 
of railroad companies who may be injured in the 
discharge of their duties, through carelessness or 
negligence of other employees or agents of the com- 
pany. Of itself the employment is in most instances 
extremely hazardous to the employee. In the dis- 
charge of his duties he is frequently required not 
only to risk his life to save other lives, but he must 
jeopardize it to protect the property of the company 

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I30 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

and of the public- The duties of these men are 
quasi-public. The most efficient service that they 
can give is due to the public in the protection of 
life and property, the safety of which depends upon 
their fidelity and courage. No man should be called 
to the discharge of such duties without assured 
compensation for injuries which he may receive 
through no fault of his own, or without reasonable 
provision for the support and maintenance of wife, 
children, or other dependents, if his life be destroyed 
in the performance of his duty. 

Message to Legislature, Jan. 15, 1903. 

The Courts and Labor Combinations 

There is one class of so-called restraints of trade 
that was not intended, or at least not understood, 
to come under the prohibitions of the Sherman anti- 
trust law. These are labor organizations. It is a 
curious fact about the enforcement of the law that, 
while the courts have carefully protected investors 
in trusts against loss of values, the only instance 
where the extreme penalty of three-fold damages 
has been imposed is in the case of a labor organiza- 
tion. The court has gone to the extent of seizing 
upon the savings of members of a labor organization 
and has ordered that these little investments should 
be paid over, as far as they go, toward giving the 
employers three times the damages that the union 
had caused to them. Certainly it is very strange 
that when the court goes to its furthest limit in 
imposing penalties on combinations of capital, all 
of the capitalist owners get away with the full value 
of their property, even though the court explicitly 

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Labor and Its Rights 131 

says that the biggest ones committed crimes in 
getting it; but when the court goes to the same 
limit in enforcing penalties on combinations of 
labor, it takes away the homes and small savings 
of the guilty members. A law which treats invest- 
ors as innocent if they form a trust, and guilty if 
they form a labor union, does not command the 
respect, nor appeal to the sense of justice of the 
American people. The fact is, the law was not 
understood by the people to apply to labor organi- 
zations, and it is a mistaken judicial construction 
that has made it so apply. The law should be 
amended, so as to get back to its original intent, by 
taking out from under its operation all labor organi- 
zations and all employers' associations. These are 
combinations which do not regulate the prices of 
commodities, but they regulate the wages and con- 
ditions of labor. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, 1910. 

The Taylor System 

Mr. President, it behooves us not to stand for 
any of the exactions upon labor which would 
grind the last ounce of work out of the toilers of 
this country by any process of sweating. I care 
not what may be used, whether the stop watch be 
held over the operative or whether men who have 
the co-ordination of mental, nervous, and muscular 
organization to enable them to win are tempted by 
a bonus system to strive for the prizes and drive 
their competitors, their fellow workmen to the 
breaking-down point. 

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132 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Mr. President, it is nothing but a "sweating sys- 
tem." It drives men to perform a given number of 
motions within a fixed time. It offers a premium 
to men who can do that thing; it subjects men who 
are by nature differently organized mentally, physi- 
cally, and nervously to a strain under which they 
are broken down. 

I remember well, Mr. President, when I stood 
some years ago upon this floor appealing to mem- 
bers of this body to pass a bill fixing i6 hours as 
the limit of time that men engaged in conducting 
the train service of the country should be permitted 
to work without interruption, there were engineers 
and conductors and other trainmen who objected 
to having any limitation put upon the number of 
hours that they might be permitted to operate a 
train, because there were a compartively few who 
could run a train 36 hours, 40 hours, perhaps 72 
hours, and keep awake, keep their faculties concen- 
trated upon their work, and earn a larger sum each 
month. They did not want any limitation upon the 
number of hours that they should be permitted to 
operate trains ; but, Mr. President, the public has 
some rights in these matters; it has some rights' 
in every question which involves labor generally. 

It had in that particular case some rights in addi- 
tion to that ; it had some rights as to the safety of 
interstate transportation. Against the wishes of 
some of the engineers and conductors and trainmen 
of the country, I remember I, with some others 
upon this floor, stood here and fought for a limita- 
tion upon the hours of service of the men operat- 
ing the trains of the country. The great body of 

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Labor and Its Rights 133 

the trainmen were in favor of a limitation. The 
great body of the trainmen today are in favor of a 
much greater limitation than the 16-hour limitation 
which, after a long struggle, we succeeded in put- 
ting upon the hours of train service men. 

Mr. President, I understand the author of ^the 
Taylor system, in his book, says that he takes no 
account of the 80 per cent, who cannot come up to 
the high standards. Those who install this system 
say to a manufacturer or business man, "Permit 
us to install our system. For $100 a day our experts 
will teach it to your operatives and .to your man- 
agers. By adopting this system, which takes account 
of every movement a man makes and exacts of him 
the highest possible speed, you will be able to 
reduce the unit cost of the output of your product 
20 per cent." Capital seizes upon that, sir. Capital 
takes no account of what may happen to the men 
who are thrown out of employment because they 
cannot make the given number of motions within 
the limited period. 

Mr. President, let us, as we did on yesterday, by 
a decisive vote hold to the position taken and say 
to the House of Representatives, "We agree with 
you. There shall be nothing left in disstgreemetit 
between the Senate and the House on this proposition." 

We will not permit to be put into this bill a line, 
or word, or a syllable that will give the conferees 
the opportunity to work out some legislation that 
shall be framed up by six men and shall come in 
here in the conference report in a form that has to 
be accepted by the Senate. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, July 26, 1916. 

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134 La Follette'8 Political Philosophy 

The Eight-Hour Law 

The eight-hour law for railway trainmen has been 
much misrepresented. During the many months of 
negotiations between the trainmen and the railroad 
managers, the railroad companies conducted a tre- 
mendous campaign in an effort to influence public 
sentiment against the granting of an eight-hour 
day to their men. Their agents worked through 
chambers of commerce, manufacturers' association^ 
and other organizations of business men, inducing 
them to pass resolutions condemning the demand 
of the trainmen, and memorializing congress to 
enact legislation to empower the interstate com- 
merce commission to fix the hours and wages of 
men employed on railroads engaged in interstate 
commerce. All of the big newspapers, and some 
of the small newspapers, of the country were 
flooded with advertisements putting before the pub- 
lic the railroads' side of this controversy. Millions 
of dollars must have been expended in this cam- 
paign. And these millions did not come from the 
pockets of the railroad managers or the railroad 
owners. This campaign was conducted with money 
that really belonged to the people. The shippers 
and the passengers were made, in the last analysis, 
to finance a publicity campaign to influence their 
own judgment upon one side of this great question. 

The railroad trainmen had no such resources to 
enable them to carry on a publicity campaign to 
shape public opinion in favor of their own demands. 
Nor did they have the additional advantage, enjoyed 
by the railroad companies, of placing huge, flam- 

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Labor and Its Rights 135 

buoyant placards upon the walls of waiting rooms 
at railway stations setting forth the case for the 
railroads before the traveling public. 

This eight-hour law has been called a "force bill" 
enacted under the demands of organized railroad 
workmen. This is not true. The railroad employees 
demanded the eight-hour day from the railroads, 
not from Congress. They made no demand what- 
ever upon Congress. They said if the railroads did 
not grant the eight-hour day they would quit work. 
This was their right — a right long judicially de- 
clared to be theirs. They set a day to quit work in 
case the railroad managers refused them the eight- 
hour day. Then the railroads inaugurated a strike 
against the public. They refused to accept freight 
for shipment, especially perishable goods. In many 
parts of the country this meant appalling disaster 
to farmers and particularly to fruit growers. It 
meant great damage to all business — even to the 
railroads themselves. 

The president stepped in and sought to adjust the 
trouble and avoid the disaster about to be thrust 
upon the country. He was not successful. The 
railway managers were particularly obstinate and 
refused to concede the principle of the eight-hour 
day. At this point the president put the matter up 
to Congress for its consideration. Congress, disin- 
terested, under law bound to consider only the 
public good, was forced to act in the public interest. 
It was not forced to act because of any demands 
upon congress by the workingmen or by the rail- 
road managers, but because the public interest de- 
manded immediate action. 

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136 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Congress acted. It passed what is known as the 
eight-hour day law for men in the employment of 
railroads in interstate commerce, engaged in moving 
trains. Every Wisconsin representative present 
voted for the bill which became a law and averted 
the strike. 

I believe they did right. I believe in the eight- 
hour day. It is claimed that congress acted "with- 
out due consideration." Did it? The question of 
the eight-hour day for skilled employees was not 
new. Every congressman who was alive to the 
issues of the day must have been fairly familiar 
with the arguments pro and con on the subject of 
the eight-hour day. I had given this matter con- 
sideration years ago when I secured the sixteen 
hour limitation for railroad employees — ^the best I 
could get at that time. 

At that time I was met with the same arguments 
which are now being made against the eight-hour 
day. The railroads and some other large employers 
are slow to learn, but abundant experience has 
shown that for the trades, professions and crafts 
where skill, courage, caution and close attention 
to business are required the eight-hour day is the 
maximum for efficiency. Had the railroads accepted 
this principle there would have been no trouble. 

However, railroads generally yield to no principle 
of progress that is not forced upon them by legis- 

The dawn of a better day would never brighten 
the path of workmen were it left to the railroad 

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Labor and Its Rights 137 

The railroad employees have been patient and 
long-suffering. Theirs is a hazardous business. 
Their calling takes them away from their homes at 
all times of the day and night, in all kinds of 
weather. Their labor is performed under dangerous 
conditions. Their span of life is short and full of 
grief. They have seen their brothers in other less 
hazardous callings secure the eight-hour day with- 
out a struggle, but they have been held to a day 
of indefinite hours so long as it did not exceed six- 
teen, and in cases of unforeseen trouble their day 
might exceed sixteen hours. I wonder that their 
just demands were not sooner made. 

Shorter Work Day Spells Efficiency 

All practical experience shows that shorter hours 
means better health and higher efficiency of em- 
ployees, the quality of the work and the character 
of the output more than offsetting any loss from 
cutting down the working hours of the day. In 
other words, shorter hours means stronger bodies, 
greater physical efficiency, a higher degree of men- 
tal alertness, keener and more intelligent concentra- 
tion on the machinery and material handled by the 
wage-earner, fewer accidents, added time for home 
life, rest, recreation, and reading, all making for 
moral, mental, and physical improvement. 

Congress has given men employed by the govern- 
ment or by contractors employed on government 
work, the eight-hour day. Wisconsin provides by 
law for the eight-hour day for state work. Twelve 
states limit the working day of minors to eight 
hours in one day. 

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138 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

The courts have held again and again that rest 
from labor one day in seven is "essential for health, 
morals, and general welfare." 

The courts will ultimately hold that it is vital to 
the health and well-being of the toiler, and for that 
vital to the general welfare, that the state should 
limit the hours of labor for the day as it limits 
the days of labor for the week. 

Let the wage-earner take heart. The eight-hour 
day will come, and come soon, to all of the skilled 
workers of every state in the nation. 

La FoUette's Magazine, 19 15. 

Limiting Hours of Service of Trainmen 

The Railroad Brotherhood of Engineers, Fire- 
men and Trainmen, a remarkably intelligent body 
of men, had long maintained a very efficient and 
faithful legislative representative, Mr. Hugh Fuller, 
here at the national capital, but they had found it 
impossible even to get a record vote on important 
measures in which they were interested. No bill 
in their interests relating to hours of service or 
liability of the employer for negligence was per- 
mitted to get out of the committee. I took up the 
matter of an Employers' Liability Law and attempted 
in 1906 to have it adopted as an amendment to the 
interstate commerce act. Failing in this, by an 
unexpected move I got a bill before the Senate 
where I could force a record vote. Now, no Sena- 
tor wanted to put himself wrong with the railway 
employees, and so after fencing for delay I finally 
got it passed without a roll call. This law, having 
been held unconstitutional by the supreme court 

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Labor and Its Rights 139 

(by vote of five to four), I introduced another 
Employers* Liability bill in the next session, and 
had it referred to the Committee on Education and 
Labor (of which Dolliver was chairman) instead of 
to the committee on interstate commerce. This bill 
was reported out by Dolliver, was passed and is now 
the law. 

I also secured the passage in 1907, after much 
opposition and filibustering, of a law to lirfiit .the ' 
hours of continuous service of railroad employees. 
This law has been of great use in preventing those 
accidents which formerly arose from the continuous 
employment of men for twenty-four or even thirty- 
six hours without sleep or rest. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

(Note — Senator La FoUette scored two victories 
in the senate session of 1907. One resulted from 
his fight for the passage of the bill limiting the 
hours of service of railroad employees. Until 1907 
there had been no limit to the number of hours a 
railroad man might be kept on duty. 

To La Follette sixteen consecutive hours seemed 
a longer day than men who have in their keeping 
the lives and limbs of hundreds of thousands of 
people daily should be permitted to work, but to 
limit the hours of labor at all was a big step in the 
right direction. All manner of testimony was pre- 
sented to show that many wrecks had been caused 
because men in charge of trains or some part of the 
railroad service had been on duty so long that they 
could no longer keep wide awake. Sixteen hours, 
La Follette thought was considerable of a conces- 

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I40 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

sion to the railroads. But the railroads fought the 
bill with all the pressure and influence they could 
wield. After days of fighting La Follette succeeded 
in forcing through the senate, only after the rail- 
roads had exhausted every trick of parliamentary 
practice, the bill limiting the hours of service of 
railroad men to sixteen. 

La Follette's second victory in the senate session 
of 1907 was the passage of a new employers' liabil- 
ity law which established as a principle of federal 
law the doctrine of comparative negligence. Here- 
tofore when an employee was injured the employer 
had but to show that the employee was guilty of 
slight negligence in order to set up a complete 
defense in a suit for personal injuries. Under this 
law the fact that the employee may have been guilty 
of contributory negligence is no longer a bar to 
recovery, if it can be shown that the employee's 
negligence was slight and the employer's negligence 
was gross in comparison.) 

On Children's Bureau 

I am loath to believe that any member of the Sen- 
ate would favor the reduction of the appropriation 
of any reasonable sum of money which could be 
expended by the children's bureau in the work 
which it was commissioned to do by the statute 
which created that bureau. I do not know of any 
way in which we can build so strongly into our 
national life as by an intelligent and scientific study 
of the child from birth. 

Twenty-five years ago you could bring an audi- 
ence of laboring men to their feet— cheering for Old 

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Labor and Its Rights 141 

Glory and what it did for liberty, for freedom, for 
emancipation; but, Mr. President, when you grind 
the faces of the poor, when you force the parents 
to put children into the factories in order that they , 
may exist, when you have little care for the death 
rate in the homes where the children of the poor 
are born, you are sowing the seed of resentment 
against this Gk)vernment of professed equality. 

There seems to be a fatal blindness upon the part 
of all of us, and when the little opportunity is 
afforded by the expenditure of $72,000 to carry for- 
ward an investigation here that will tell the story 
of this awful mortality among the children of those 
who work for wages, we find it opposed. When 
there is a little opportunity here to let the light into 
the homes of the toilers to know why it is that one 
out of every four babies of those who earn $450 a 
year must die before they are 12 months old, it is 
to be blocked in the interests of economy. 

It may be, Mr. President, that I am expressing 
undue feeling upon this matter. I am not entirely 
a novice in public affairs. I have spent almost my 
whole life in dealing with these questions, and I 
am constrained to believe that it behooves the 
statesmanship of this country to give consideration 
to these things that concern the millions of the 
toilers of this country. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, January 22, 191 7. 

The La Follette Seaman's Act 

The act to promote the welfare of American sea- 
men and safety of life at sea, approved by President 
Wilson March fourth, makes America sacred soil 

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142 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

and the thirteenth amendment finally becomes a 
covenant of refuge for the seamen of the world. 
It has taken a twenty-one year struggle to accom- 
plish this result. 

The law makes the sailor a free man. 

It standardizes his skill. 

It limits the number of hours of continuous service. 

It provides better conditions of living for him on 
shipboard, — more food, more water, more light, and 
air, larger and more sanitary sleeping and living 
space, and a hospital section separate and apart 
from that portion of the vessel in which the sailors 
must sleep and eat. 

While the law does not completely safeguard the 
public interest, it is a great advance in the right 
direction. Furthermore it substitutes enforceable 
statutes for the rules and regulations of an inspec- 
tion service which are more often disregarded than 

It requires every vessel leaving an American port 
for a foreign country to carry lifeboats sufficient to 
accommodate at least seventy-five per cent of all on 
board, and to carry life rafts for the remaining 
twenty-five per cent. Formerly the number of life- 
boats required to be carried by ocean liners was 
committed to the discretion of the inspection ser- 
vice, which has had less consideration for public 
safety than for the interests of steamship companies. 
It was my contention from the beginning that there 
should be lifeboats for all, and the Senate adopted 
the amendment I offered to that end. But the influ- 
ence of the ship owners was strong enough in the 
House to reduce the number of lifeboats to seventy- 

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Labor and Its Rights 143 

five per cent. Twenty-five per cent of the passen- 
gers must resort to life rafts in the event of disaster. 
Life rafts in mid-ocean would only serve tempo- 
rarily to keep afloat the people so unfortunate as 
to be dependent upon them; and with a high sea 
running and in chill weather they would inevitably 
drown or die from exposure. 

Aside from the sections of the law primarily for 
the benefit of the passengers, the public has a direct 
interest in many of the provisions intended espe- 
cially to benefit the seamen. 

Safety Demands Sailor's Contentment 

Making the sailor a free man will make his calling 
equal under the law with that of every wage-earner. 
It will remove the stigma of involuntary servitude 
which has driven tens of thousands of the bravest 
and best men to abandon the sea. Sailors of intel- 
ligence and character and courage on the deck of 
every ship means immeasurably greater security 
for passengers in a time of peril. 

The public safety is conserved by limiting the 
number of hours of consecutive service which can 
be required of seamen, precisely as it is conserved 
in limiting the number of railway employees who may 
be required to work in running railroad trains. 
Whether serving in the cab of an engine or serving 
on watch or at the wheel on the deck of an ocean 
liner, safety for human life demands that the engi- 
neer or the seaman shall be keen, vigilant, alert, 
every faculty concentrated on the duty of the hour. 
No man exhausted in mind or body is fit for the 
great responsibility which such a position imposes. 
Just as the public interest required a law restrain- 

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144 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

ing railroads from overworking trainmen, so the 
public interest demands a limitation on the hours of 
continuous service at sea. 

The law provides that in every port where a 
vessel of the United States, after the voyage has 
commenced, shall load or deliver cargo, before the 
voyage is ended, a seaman is entitled to receive on 
demand from the master of the vessel to which he 
belongs, one-half of the wages which he shall then 
have earned. 

The old law conferred upon the seaman the right 
to demand half pay as above, provided there were 
"no stipulation to the contrary in the shipping 
agreement." But this provision in the old law was 
uniformly defeated by "stipulating to the contrary" 
in the articles of shipment. This has enabled the 
ship owner to hold seamen in the service against 
their will, by depriving them of pay in port. This 
authority over the seamen was made absolute 
through the right of the master to imprison any 
seaman who quit service, even though the vessel 
were in safe port. No other laboring man in the 
United States can be compelled on pain of imprison- 
ment to serve out his term according to the letter 
of his agreement. He can forfeit his wages and quit 
if he finds the conditions of the service intolerable. 
Not so the sailor. Under the old law, fair or foul, 
his body was bound to the master of the ship. He 
was compelled to continue in the service of the ship 
owner even though willing to forfeit all his earnings 
in order to free himself from the terms of his con- 
tract of service whenever he found them too harsh 
or severe to be endured. 

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Labor and Its Rights 145 

The American sailor in his bondage has been for- 
gotten for generations. At last his appeal has been 
heard. It was reserved for President Wilson in the 
closing hours of the Sixty-third congress to approve 
a measure which blots out the last vestige of slavery 
under the American flag. The seaman's bill is the 
second proclamation of freedom. The fourth of 
March, 191 5, is the sailor's emancipation day. 

La FoUette's Magazine, March, 19 15. 

Seaman's Law Has Made Good 

(Note — ^The following extract is from the New 
Republic, 1919) : 

'"Fiiruseth's prophecy has in fact come true. 
In 191 1, the last year for which official statistics 
were available, British wages for seamen and fire- 
men ranged from $20 to $25 a month, while Amer- 
ican wages ranged from $30 to $50 for the same 
employment. Wages of other European maritime 
nations were even lower than the British. By the 
end of 1918, the American rate had risen to $75 
a month for both seamen and firemen. 

"The result has been to place American seamen 
and American ship owners in a better position 
than any they have occupied since the civil war. 
Wages have increased, not only absolutely, but 
in relation to purchasing power — for seamen in 
the trans-Atlantic trade the increase in wages 
since 1914 has been 164 per cent, and for firemen 
89 per cent. This means, according to Governor 
^ Bass' report, an increase in purchasing power of 
38 per cent for seamen and 5.4 per cent for fire- 
men. Wage§ are high enough now to attract 

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146 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

the best type of American labor. Yet as compared 
with foreign vessels, the cost of operating Ameri- 
can ships is relatively cheaper than before the 

One Issue in History 

Ah, Mr. President, let me say here in this connec- 
tion that there has, in my opinion, been only one 
great issue in all the history of the world. That is- 
sue has been between labor and those who would 
control, through slavery in one form or another, the 
laborers. That is history. Read it. Study it. Na- 
tions have gone down in ruin from the first dawn of 
history that have sought to make slaves of the great 
masses of men. That is the destiny of nations, for 
the God of justice and humanity is over all, and 
when one privileged powerful class of the human 
race seeks to benefit itself unjustly from the great 
masses of people, they run counter and bring down 
upon themselves ultimately the judgment, the jus- 
tice of God Almighty. We are on the road, I fear, 
that other nations have traveled. I do not know 
that it is possible, sir, to arrest that progress. It 
may be that it is a disease that must afflict all na- 
tions and all peoples. It may be that it is an inex- 
orable law of evolution. 

Here in this country we have been led to hope 
for something better than that. I have inherited, as 
ir were, the belief and the hope that this was the 
place for the consummation and the working out of 
the most perfect Government attainable. 

We had in this country a splendid opportunity, 
better, I think, than any other nation in the world. 

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Labor and Its Rights 147 

If the human race is gradually to be lifted to higher 
and higher levels, if civilization is to be truly dem- 
ocratic and progressive, and if we are ultimately to 
come to as high a degree of perfection in govern- 
ment in this world as finite human beings can at- 
tain, it ought to be here in America, above all other 
places in the world, for we had here the best oppor- 
tunity. We had virgin soil in which to lay our 
foundations. We had the new material that came 
from the Old World. Every immigrant wanted 
more liberty and democracy, wanted freedom, and 
hoped to realize the ideals to which the human heart 
aspires. It is the only place, as I see it, for the 
human race to attain it. 

I see forces carrying us in the other direction; 
The Standard Oil, the Copper Trust, the Beef Trust, 
and all the great organizations of power and capital 
that have been built up here in violation of the law 
of the land; that have thriven and controlled and 
defied the Government. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, Aug. 29, 1919. 

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The Legislative Lobby 

^ HE legislature of 1899 enacted chapter 
I 243 of the laws of 1899, designed to 
g control and somewhat restrict the 
^ operations of what is commonly 
^ termed "the lobby" in relation to legis- 
lation. The principle involved in that enactment 
has my unqualified approval. It is of course neither 
possible nor desirable to isolate the members of the 
legislature from the people of the state. All public 
officers are but the servants of the people, and in 
discharging their various duties the more closely 
they keep in touch with, and learn the wishes and 
interests of, the people, the better. But when either 
individuals or corporations keep at the seat of gov- 
ernment, a body of salaried agents, or counsel, 
whose duty it is to bring about or prevent legis- 
lation, as their employers may desire, who accom- 
plish such results not so much by open and public 
argument before the legislature and legislative com- 
mittees as by personal influence exerted in various 
ways upon individual members of the legislature, 
it becomes an evil which ought to be controlled and 
checked as a menace to the welfare of the state. 

In my judgment the fullest opportunity ought to 
be given for free and fair discussion of all subjects 

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Big Business and Government 149 

of legislation before the two houses and their vari- 
ous committees by all who are interested in these 
subjects; but, in my opinion, that ought to be the 
extent of the services permitted to be performed by 
legislative agents or lobby counsel. Any argument 
which cannot bear the light of publicity ought not 
to be permitted to influence legislation or to be per- 
mitted to be made. 

Message to Legislature, 1901. 

For Effective Corrupt Practices Act 

We are opposed to the excessive use of money in 
political campaigns. It is the weapon of special in- 
terests. It is an instrument of evil. It debauches 
manhood and corrupts the electorate. It serves 
every bad cause and embarrasses every good one. 

We favor the enactment of a law which will 
authorize the publication by the state of necessary 
information concerning the qualifications of candi- 
dates at all primary and general elections. 

No candidate for office should disburse money for 
the purpose of promoting his nomination or elec- 
tion, except — 

First, for his own personal traveling expenses ; 

Second, payments required to be made to the state 
for information published; 

Third, contributions to his personal campaign 
committee ; 

Fourth, contributions to his party campaign com- 

Except for these purposes no money should be 
expended or disbursed by any person to nominate or 
elect any candidate for office unless by and through 

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I50 La Follcttc's Political Philosophy 

a publicly registered campaign committee to be ap- 
pointed by the candidate himself or through the reg- 
ular party committee of his party. Such committees 
should be required to keep accurate books of ac- 
count and file sworn statements with public author- 
ity at regular intervals during the progress of the 
campaign, showing all moneys contributed to and 
disbursed by it, the amount thereof, from whom re- 
ceived, to whom paid, and for what purposes. With- 
in thirty days after every primary and general elec- 
tion a complete statement, in detail, of all financial 
transactions of such committees should be filed in 
like manner. 

The total expenditure by or on behalf of any can- 
didate should be limited by law and restricted to the 
following purposes : Hall rent, traveling expenses of 
speakers, clerical assistants, printing of literature 
and distribution thereof by mail or public messen- 
ger, and newspaper advertising. All campaign lit- 
erature and advertising should bear the name of the 
author and of the ' person causing a publication 
thereof. No political activity should be permitted 
on either primary or general election day. 

Compliance should be compelled by rigorous pen- 
alties, including imprisonment and disqualification 
of the candidate for public office. 

We pledge legislation embodying these principles. 
Republican State Platform, 19 lo. 

Respect for, and Obedience to the Law 

I remember a few days ago in the discussion here 
that the senator from Ohio (Mr. Fo raker) rose in 
his place and said that the railroad officials of this 

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Big Business and Government 151 

country are not criminals. I say to the senator that 
the records, so far as they have been exposed, show 
that the railroad officials of this country are, with 
rare exceptions, criminals under the statute. 

Now, I mean what I say. I see senators on that 
side smile; but let me say to you, gentlemen, that 
when in Wisconsin we summoned the railroad com- 
panies into court to answer for having juggled the 
reports of their annual earnings, which they were 
required by law to make under oath to the state 
officials, when they appeared before the court and. 
the testimony of the state was but partly offered, 
when the arguments over certain law propositions 
had been concluded, those officials — and they are 
just as honorable as the officials of any railroad 
companies in the United States — came into court 
and stipulated that they had violated the law, and 
went to the supreme court on a question of the 
statute, as to whether or not, to state it specifically, 
their report to the state officer and its acceptance by 
that officer, even if the report was a violation of 
the statute, had not bound the state. That is what 
they did. They confessed a violation of the stat- 
ute; they confessed having under oath reported 
their gross earnings short of the true amount as 
required by the statute; and they are just as hon- 
orable as the railroad officials of any state in this 

Speech in U. S. Senate, April 19-21, 1906. 

The Half-Loaf in Legislation 

In legislation no bread is often better than half 
a loaf. I believe it is usually better to be beaten 

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152 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

and come right back at the next session and make a 
fight for a thoroughgoing law than to have written 
on the books a weak and indefinite statute. 

I believe that half a loaf is fatal whenever it is 
accepted at the sacrifice of the basic .principle 
sought to be attained. Half a loaf, as a rule, dulls 
the appetite, and destroys the keenness of interest 
hi attaining the full loaf. A halfway measure never 
fairly tests the principle and may utterly discredit 
it. It is certain to weaken, disappoint, and dissipate 
public interest. Concession and compromise are al- 
most always necessary in legislation, but they call 
for the most thorough and complete mastery of the 
principles involved, in order to fix the limit beyond 
which not one hair's breadth can be yielded. 

Autobiography, 191 3. 

On Compromise 

In every contest situations may arise, or be 
created, inviting to a compromise on candidate or 
principle. The temptation to yield is strong. Yet 
in my whole course I have always insisted on driv- 
ing straight ahead. To do otherwise not only weak- 
ens the cause for which you are contending but 
destroys confidence in your constancy of purpose. 

I have always believed that anything that was 
worth fighting for involved a principle, and I in- 
sist on going far enough to establish that principle 
and to give it a fair trial. I believe in going for- 
ward a step at a time, but it must be a full step. 
When I went into the primary fight, and afterward 
into the railroad fight — and it has been my settled 
policy ever since — I marked off a certain area in 

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Big Business and Government 153 

which I would not compromise, within which com- 
promise would have done more harm to progress 
than waiting and fighting would have done. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Placing the Responsibility 

It is true that men everywhere who dare to show 
that they are my friends are being intimidated and 
punished in innumerable ways. I wish that it might 
be otherwise. I wish that I might either receive 
the blows aimed at them on my account, or else that 
I could be more conciliatory in matters of public 
interest by which I am deeply moved. But I can 
no more compromise or seem to compromise where 
what I regard as an important matter is involved 
than I could by wishing it add twenty years to my 
span of life. My friends must accept me with this 
limitation, if such it is, or not at all. 

From Unpublished Letter to a Supporter, 1918. 

The Packers 

No more infamous organization ever existed in 
the United States than the packers' combination. It 
has defied the criminal law. It has defied the Con- 
gress of the United States. It has defied the Presi- 
dent. It has defied the executive and legislative 
authority. It has done what it pleased ; it has rid- 
den down the Sherman anti-trust law. It has not 
confined itself to meat products alone but it has 
reached out into almost every field of food products 
and is seeking to control and dominate the prices of 
food of the people of this country. * * * 

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154 La Fojlette's Political Philosophy 

Mr. President and Senators, some man will some 
day gather together the testimony that has been 
submitted to the Committee on Agriculture of the 
Senate, and when he throws it upon the screen so 
that the people of this country may see it as it is, 
a leash will be needed to hold the people in this 
country in restraint. * * * 

* * * As we read from day to day the work of 
this organization * * * we know that at a time 
when the people of the country were sending their 
boys away and were giving and giving to the pur- 
chase of Liberty bonds, when the old men and the 
old women were trying to do the work upon the 
farms, when everyone was giving, giving, giving, 
we find that this packers' organization was grind- 
ing the life out of the people by continually and 
unnecessarily increasing the cost of the necessaries 
of life. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, June 28, 1919. 

Must Not Surrender Rights 

The gravest danger menacing republican institu- 
tions today is the overbalancing control of city, 
state, and national legislatures by the wealth and 
power of public-service corporations. This is not 
more marked with one political party when in power 
than with another. It deals with public officials. 
It makes no political distinctions. It cannot be 
cured by denunciation. It cannot be defended by 
the cry of "purist" or "populist" or "demagogue." 
It goes directly to the root of government. It 
threatens to sap the life of American citizenship. 
The voter elects the candidate ; the corporation con- 

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Big Business and Government 155 

trols the official. It leaves the citizen the semblance 
of power which is actually exercised against him. 

The problem presented is a momentous one. It 
calls for no appeal to passion or prejudice or fear. 
It calls for courage and patriotism and self-sacrifice. 
It calls for solution. Shall the American people be- 
come servants instead of masters of their boasted 
material progress and prosperity — ^victims of the 
colossal wealth this free land has fostered and pro- 
tected? Surely our great cities, our great states, 
our great nation, will not helplessly surrender to 
this most insidious enemy which is everywhere un- 
dermining official integrity and American institu- 
tions. Surely the party of Abraham Lincoln which 
abolished slavery, which kept the United States 
undivided, upon the map of the world, will not 
abandon its traditions, its memories, its hopes, and 
become the_ instrument of injustice and oppression. 
It will do its plain duty now, as it did in that great- 
est epoch of the country's history. It will meet the 
issues with rectitude and unfaltering devotion, 
strong in the faith of ultimate triumph. 

Gentlemen of the convention, the contest for equal 
and just taxation and nominations by direct vote 
is not yet completely won. The nomination which 
you have just tendered me is the unmistakable, the 
emphatic demand of the republican party for the 
prompt enactment of these laws. But between that 
expressed will and the ripening of these measures 
into law, there are caucuses and conventions for the 
nomination of candidates for the senate and assem- 
bly. When the legislature convenes there are the 
same forces to be met and contended with that led 

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156 La Follctte's Political Philosophy 

to the undoing of the last legislature. I appeal to 
you, and thrpugh you to the people of the state, to 
be vigilant to the last hour. Do not relax your ef- 
forts until this good work is finished. Let no man 
be named for the legislature who is not fully in ac- 
cord with the republican platform. Name only men 
who are willing to go on record for this legislation, 
who are free from all entanglements or complica- 
tions that may force them to vote contrary to desire 
and conscience. Wherever senators or assembly- 
men already have been nominated, let them openly 
and publicly proclaim their position with respect 
to these issues. This is equally the right of the 
party and the public. 

Gentlemen, the contest through which we have 
just passed strengthens the pillars of government 
by the people and for the people. It teaches the 
sacredness of public obligation. It elevates moral 
standards in public life. 

Fight Is for Principle Only 

These are lessons which we should cherish. Let 
all else of this contest be forgotten. It does not 
signify who began it, or why it was begun. It has 
been decided. Let that suffice. I do not treasure 
one personal injury or lodge in memory one per- 
sonal insult. With individuals I have no quarrel and 
will have none. The span of my life is too short 
for that. But so much as it pleases God to spare 
unto me I shall give, whether in the public service 
or out of it, to the contest for good government. 

Every pledge of the platform which you have 
adopted here today has my unqualified approval, 
and, if elected, I shall, in so far as the direction of 

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Big Business and Government 157 

public affairs is committed to me, faithfully strive 
to carry out those pledges. 

I accept a renomination firm in the resolution to 
discharge every duty that devolves upon me con- 
scientiously, sustained by the abiding conviction 
that the republican party will redeem its pledges 
and press on to other victories. 

If again chosen chief executive of this common- 
wealth, it will be my highest endeavor personally, 
and with the aid of my associates in office and the 
co-operation of the legislative department, to give 
to the people of Wisconsin an efficient and eco- 
nomical state government, honestly administered in 
a spirit of justice to all men and to all interests. 
Speech Accepting Nomination for Governor, 

July 16, 1902. 
The Iniquity of the "Conference" System 

Mr. President, one of the iniquities of our legisla- 
tive system is that we turn over to conferees al- 
most, if not quite, the absolute power to make leg- 

I hope that we shall early adopt a rule that con- 
ference reports shall be open to consideration in 
their items and be open to amendment on the floor. 

Mr. President, a system of rules giving into the 
hands of a conference the power to make legisla- 
tion is destructive of democracy. 

Why, sir, the Senate is practically powerless 
when considering a conference report. It has to 
consider and to accept or reject the report as a 
v/hole. Legislation about which there is a wide dif- 
ference of opinion between this legislative body and 
the one at the other end of the ^Capitol goes to 

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158 La Pollette*s Political Philosophy 

conference. Out of the Conference committee will 
come a proposition that has almost no relation to 
the opinion expressed by the other House or the 
opinion expressed by the Senate when the original 
measure was under consideration. 

This new proposition may be embodied in a re- 
port covering scores of pages. Every senator 
knows that when a conference report comes in, par- 
ticularly in the latter days of a session, its details 
receive no consideration. It is passed without dis- 
cussion of each of the many subjects it may cover. 
Maybe one single item in a conference report will 
be taken up and discussed; but, Mr. President, the 
senate knows from long experience that when such 
a report comes in, it is a hopeless proposition to 
undertake to deal with it in detail. And so, I say, 
it lies with the conferees to make our legislation. 

I hope that as a member of this body I shall live 
to see the rules with respect to conference reports 
so changed that it will not be possible for two or 
three men to dictate and put through legislation. 
This is a democracy. We. are supposed to be the 
representatives of the people. 

Our work upon this floor and the work of our 
associates at the other end of the Capitol is sup- 
posed to represent public opinion and the interests 
of the great masses of this country. But I need not 
say to the Senators what everybody knows, that 
very often the public will is defeated, that public 
interest is perverted, and democracy is shackled in 
legislation as we enact it. 

La Follette's Magazine, September, 19 16. 

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Big Business and Government 159 

(Note — ^There are many tricks in the making of 
laws. Perhaps the most familiar trick is known as 
the "joker." A "joker" in legislation is a well- 
known device by which bad provisions may be 
slipped into an otherwise acceptable bill. A "joker" 
is thoroughly dishonest. It is resorted to on every 
possible occasion by privileged interests that wish to 
destroy the effect of a good law demanded by pub- 
lic opinion. ' 

But there is another legislative trick employed in 
congress quite as effectively as the "joker." This 
trick is in the system by which "conferees" from 
both the house and senate are appointed to adjust 
differences between the two houses on any measure 
of legislation. In actual practice it is possible in 
these conferences, for a handful of representatives 
to shape legislation. 

This system should be thoroughly understood by 
every voter. It was explained by Senator La Fol- 
lette in his speech on the floor of the United States 
Senate July 26, 1916, when he exposed Gallinger's 
attempt to have the Taylor "sweating plan" for 
v/orking men slipped into the army appropriation 
bill — in conference — after it had been rejected by 
both the House and the Senate. See La Follette's 
Magazine for Augtist, 1916.) 

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What Tarifif Should Be 

HE passage of the Payne-Aldrich bill 
I was the most outrageous assault of 
I private interests upon the people re- 
corded in tariff history. 
In order to place the tariff on a sci- 
entific basis it is necessary to know: 

What is the nature and use of a given commodity 
under consideration; what are the raw materials 
used in its production and manufacture; what is 
the amount of its production and consumption in 
this country ; how many concerns are engaged in its 
manufacture ; who are the principal producers ; what 
are the ruling markets in this country. Then we 
must know the ruling market prices of this com- 
modity in competing countries, what is the cost per 
unit of production in this and competing countries, 
what is the percentage of labor cost to the total 
cost of a unit of product, in this and in competing . 
foreign countries ; what is the cost of transportation 
to the principal markets from the points of produc- 
tion in this and competing foreign countries ; what 
part of the proposed duty represents the difference 
in cost of production between this and foreign com- 
peting countries; what part of the proposed duty 

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The Tariff i6i 

represents the reasonable profits of the American 
manufacturer, if he is to be given a reasonable 

La F Queue's Magazine, 191 2. 

Tariff — For Amendment to Canadian Pact 

Mr. President, shall we incur the risk of letting 
this chance of at least a partial tariff revision go 
by? How shall we answer to the public if we then 
fail of tariff reduction altogether? 

Sir, the President has declared Schedule K an 
"indefensible outrage." Further, he made a cam- 
paign and was elected upon a declaration- that the 
revision of the tariff should be downward and not 
upward. I believe he will think it unwise to with- 
hold approval of a bill that enacts into law his 
particular measure — this Canadian pact, which is 
not reciprocity in any sense — because we have 
amended it, even though not to his liking. This 
will be especially true when our amendments actu- 
ally reduce taxation upon the people of this country 
by revising downward that same Schedule K and 
some others nearly, if not quite, so intolerable. 

Mr. President, what I shall offer to the senate as 
an amendment to the Canadian administration bill, 
as a revision of Schedule K and of the cotton sched- 
ule, will be shown to be easily and safely within 
the line of the difference in production cost. It will 
be offered with the expectation that when the Tar- 
iff Board shall have completed its expert work upon 
any one of these schedules that schedule can be 
taken up by Congress for thorough and scientific 
revision. I have no doubt that when that work 

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1 62 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

shall have been done it will be found that upon 
the difference in the cost of production between 
this and the competing countries we can cut far 
below the duties which I shall propose in the 
amendments I offer. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, June 21, 191 1. 

Tariff — Great Industries Over-Protected 

I anticipate, Mr. President, that whenever we 
attempt tariff revision or seek to enact legislation 
interfering with the trust control of business a panic 
will be foreshadowed, that prices will be depressed 
for the products of the farmer, that labor will be 
thrown out of employment, and that all of the 
threats which will serve to frighten the farmer and 
the wage-earner will be heard on the hustings and 
seen on the printed page. But I shall do what I 
can to persuade the business men of small means 
and the wage-earners of this country to discredit 
those warnings as having any logical relation to 
wholesome legislation. 

The predictions of panic resulting from tariff re- 
ductions may come true. They can be brought to 
pass. They need not come true. These great in- 
dustries are overprotected. Their duties could be 
reduced in most cases much below the point fixed 
in this conference report and not disturb in the 
slightest degree a single industry in the country. 
Of that I am confident. These duties will be re- 
duced, Mr. President, if not at this session of the 
congress then in the very near future ; and defeat at 
this time, whether it be here or whether it be in- 

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The Tariff 163 

terposed by executive veto, as threatened, will not 
long delay the lifting of these great burdens from 
the backs of the American people. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, August 15, 191 1. 
The Farmer and the Tariff 
The voters should not be misled and vote to in- 
crease the cost of living by high tariffs without any 
benefits in return. For years and years the farmers 
of this country, particularly in the northern states, 
have stood solidly for protective principles. They 
have gone to the polls election after election and 
returned to power the party pledged to this doc- 
trine. It was not directly for their advantage that 
the tariff walls were raised higher and higher. But 
in the belief that they were ultimately to come into 
their own through the upbuilding of a great home 
market, for many years they consented to the tnaiur 
tenance of these high duties. They were not un- 
mindful of the fact that they were thereby com- 
pelled to pay more for manufactured products they 
purchased than otherwise would be the ca&e if these 
products came to them untaxed. But strong in the. 
faith that they, would be rewarded in the price paid 
for their products in the American market, they 
were content to go on paying more to the manu- 
facturers who made their clothes, their machinery, 
manufactured their lumber, furniture and all sup- 
plies which they were required to purchase. They 
believed that by fostering our manufacturing in- 
dustries the general prosperity of the nation would 
be enhanced, that a great and well paid manufactur- 
ing population was the best guarantee of a great 
and well patronized farming population. 

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1 64 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Thus the farmer was persuaded to support the 
protective system. With patience and good cheer 
he gave long years of toil to the hardship of open- 
ing up new lands and creating new agricultural em- 
pires to afford a wider and firmer foundation for 
the nation's prosperity. 

What was his reward? 

The home market was then created, but it was 
not just the home market which had been the farm- 
er's dream, and for which he sacrificed so much. 
Behind the protective tariff wall which he had 
helped to rear, the industries of the country shelt- 
ered from foreign competition had grown rich and 
powerful. They had become allied with other great 
and powerful interests, engaged in transportation, 
and those in turn had formed monster organizations 
for the control of stock yards, packing houses, and 
grain elevators. In short, these interests owned and 
controlled the home market. They fixed the farm- 
er's prices arbitrarily. They took the profit of his 
toil. Added to this, the manufacturers protected 
"against competitors and compelled the farmer and 
other consumers to pay higher and higher prices 
for manufactured products. 

The result of these conditions may be said to be 
somewhat reflected in the recent census report, 
which shows a steady increase in the proportion of 
farms mortgaged over those which are free from 
incumbrance. In 1890, the number was 28.2 per 
cent; in 1900 it was 31. i per cent; in 1910, the per- 
centage of farms mortgaged had increased to 33.6 
per cent. 

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The Tariff 165 

With the market in which he must buy all his 
manufactured products controlled largely, if not 
wholly, by combinations, which has steadily in- 
creased the price of everything he buys, and with 
the market in which he must sell everything he pro- 
duces controlled by combinations which arbitrarily 
fix the price that he receives, the farmer's support 
of the protective system will be a constantly dimin* 
ishing factor as long as these conditions exist. 
Speech at Sun Prairie, Wis., August 14, 1916. 
Tariff Commission 

I believe in protection to American industries and 
American labor. I believe that reasonable protec- 
tion is measured by the difference in cost between 
the manufacture of the article in this country and 
the cost of manufacture abroad. A tariff based on 
this principle can be made only upon scientific study 
and research. I have favored, together with other 
progressive Republicans, a tariff commission whose 
duty it will be to ascertain the cost of production in 
this country and other countries of the world. A 
tariff bill deals with thousands of products. Relia- 
ble data for determining the cost of production has 
been worked out with accuracy on several of the 
most important schedules covered by the tariff. As 
to the products the cost of producing which is not 
known, we must make the best estimates possible 
with the material at hand. With a tariff commis- 
sion to gather accurate data it will not be difficult 
to pass a tariff bill that will protect the American 
manufacturers who are dealing fairly with the 
American people. 

La Follette's Magazine, October, 1916. 

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On Amending the. National Banking Law 

T is quite generally admitted that our cur- 
rency and banking laws need revision. 
^ In my reading I have found no authority 
to the contrary. Throughout this debate 
there has run a note of apology and 
excuse for this bill ; that it is, granting all that its 
author and friends claim for it, but an expedient for 
extreme and perilous situations. It is admitted to be 
a makeshift. 

A review of the debates of recent years touching 
our banking laws shows that necessity for revision 
has long been recognized. The subject has recurred 
from time to time whenever forced upon the attention 
of the Senate by some financial or commercial disturb- 
ance, but not otherwise. Propositions are always forth- 
coming, timed to fit some particular trouble, calling 
for some specific action, and usually resulting in ben- 
efit to the Special Interests. It would appear that we 
might learn much from European countries in regard 
to bank management and currency legislation. 

For my own part, Mr. President, I believe this 
subject one of supreme importance, requiring study 
and research, such as no committee of this body will 
bestow upon it. I do not believe that any other great 
nation in the world situated as we are would fail to 

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Money and Banking 167 

create a suitable commission for investigation and 
report. Such a commission should be composed of 
men representing not the banking interests of the 
country alone, representing not the banking interests 
engaged in speculative banking at all, but representing 
commercial banking interests, representing transporta- 
tion interests, representing producers and consumers, 
to which should be added a Government expert who 
has served in the office of the Comptroller of the Cur- 
rency, and one or more eminent economists who have 
made a special study of. Gk)vernment finance. 

Mr. President, I have talked in vain if I have not 
made plain the thought that there is just one issue 
before the country today. It is not currency. It is not 
tariff. It is not railroad legislation. These and other 
important questions are but phases of one great con- 

Let no man think he is not concerned ; that his state 
or his constituency is not interested. There is no 
remote comer of this country where the power of 
special interests is not encroaching on public rights. 

Let no man think this is a question of party poli- 
tics. It strikes down to the very foundation of our 
free institutions. The System knows no party. It is 
supplanting government. 

Mr. President, I think I may say without risk of 
being misunderstood, at least by those of whom I 
speak, that I know something of the sentiment of the 
people of this country. 

I have found no difference of opinion among them 
as to existing conditions and the causes underlying it 
all. In Wisconsin, and from New York to the Pacific 

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x68 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

states, the people I have met hold one opinion, have 
one conviction. 

They are deeply concerned. They understand. Men 
back of the system seem to know not what they do. 

In their strife for more money, more power — more 
power, more money — there is no time for thought, for 
reflection. They look neither forward nor backward. 
Government, society, and the individual are swal- 
lowed up in the struggle for greater control. The 
plain man living the wholesome life of peace and con- 
tentment has a better perspective, a saner judgment. 
He has ideals and conscience and human emotions. 
Home, children, neighbors, friends, church, schools, 
country, constitute life. He knows very definitely, the 
conditions affecting the rights guaranteed him by the 
constitution, but he longs for expression, he longs for 
leadership. Blind indeed is he who does not see what 
the time portends. He who would remain in public 
service must serve the public, not the system. He 
must serve his country, not special interests. I believe 
this bill will strengthen the power that grows every 
day a greater menace to the industrial and commercial 
liberty of the American people. I believe this will 
strengthen the very element that is undermining the 
commercial banking of the country. 

Speech in U, S, Senate, 1908. 

Private Control of Legislation 

Do you know that something over forty years 
ago patriotic independent postmasters-general be- 
gan to appeal through their reports to congress for 
postal savings banks? I was a member of the 
house of representatives in 1886. I was the young- 

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Money and Banking 169 

est member of the house then. I want to say right 
now so as not to have any misunderstanding about 
my age. William F. Vilas was postmaster-general. 
William F. Vilas figured it out that we were paying 
to the railroad companies for the use of. the car 
which you see in every train marked "Railway 
Postal Car," or something like that, to indicate that 
it is a post office on wheels — that we were paying 
for the rent of those post offices (that is all they 
are, just as your post office here is a federal build- 
ing, so are these cars our post offices) annually on 
these cars $500,000 more than enough to build them 
and take care of them every twelve months. 

An old Wisconsin boy then in the house of rep- 
resentatives, Henry Clay Evans, a car manufacturer 
at Chattanooga, Tennessee, came over to my desk to 
talk to me about that. "Why," he says, "that is an 
awful thing." He was a member of the committee 
on post offices and post roads. He said, "I am going 
to have that amended in committee, and I am going 
to put through an amendment to have the gov- 
ernment as Postmaster General Vilas recommends, 
build those cars and own them just as the govern- 
ment owns its other post offices, and merely hire the 
railroad company to pull them around." 

"Well, Clay," I said, "I think that is a splendid 
thing; now you let me know how you get along 
with that down in the committee." I had been there 
one term longer than he had, you know. He came 
up one day after a committee meeting, a square- 
jawed fellow, you know, and he looked positively 
frightful, he was so angry. He said : "Do you know 
I offered that resolution in the committee and I 

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I70 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

got one, just one vote for it — my vote." "But," he 
said, "I will fix it on the floor. I am going to offer 
it on the floor, I gave notice to the committee that 
1 would." I said, "All right Clay, now you just go 
in ; I will do what I can to help you." He offered it 
on the floor and you know what happened to it. 
We got four or five votes out of 325 — ^that was the 
membership of the house at that time. 

We go on today paying that same exorbitant rent 
for the use of those cars. I have tried since I have 
been back in the senate to get some action, to get 
an investigation of the subject, to do something. 
You know the same men who own these great 
group banks own the railroads of this country 
They do. That is just a suggestion, you know. I 
could stand here all night long, so could your own 
senator here, and detail to you the history, piece 
after piece of legislation the last ten or fifteen years 
just like that, just like that. 

Currency Reform Is Long Battle 

Take the banking and currency laws of the coun- 
try. We have got a currency commission now. 
Senator Aldrich is at the head of it. He named the 
other members. They are going to help him out. 
They are going to report out a measure this coming 
congress. I suspect it is going to be for a central 
bank. But I suspect the control of that bank will 
be here. Fight, as you would fight for your lives 
against that legislation. I don't care who backs it 
up or who endorses it. I don't care what sanction it 
may have from high places; fight it as you would 
fight for your lives, because the control of the cur- 
rency is the last ditch. 

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Money and Banking 171 

Do you know what the acting comptroller of the 
currency said in an interview while the Aldrich 
emergency currency bill was pending in the United 
States senate? He said that for forty years, and 
he named the number of comptrollers of the cur- 
rency that had been in office during that period of 
time, they had, in their annual reports to congress, made 
recommendations in the interests of the depositors 
of banks and of the public generally, not one of 
which had been adopted in all that time by congress. 

Acting Commissioner Kane, who has been in of- 
fice for many years, is assistant comptroller of the 
currency. He is a man whose knowledge and whose 
information and whose character and standing are 
high enough and important enough to be retained 
there to do the real work while nominal heads come 
and go over him. He said boldly in an interview 
over his own name, while that so-called emergency 
bill was pending in the United States senate, that 
no legislation recommended in the public interest 
had received any attention from congress and that 
the only legislation on the currency question which 
did get attention from congress was legislation 
which served some financial power. He was driven 
so by his sense of what was right and just and due 
to the American people, during the pendency of 
that gigantic fraud as a financial proposition that 
was perpetrated on the American people merely for 
the purpose of finding a market among the banks 
of this country for the securities of these over- 
capitalized organizations that were made and legiti- 
matized by that measure as a proper basis for 
emergency currency in time of distress. He felt so 

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172 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

outraged by that legislation that on Sunday morn- 
ing in the Washington Post he gave that interview 
which was a challenge to and a denunciation of 
congress on its record through all those years. 
Speech at Si. Paul, Oct, 9, 1909. 

High Finance — Interlocking Directorates — Back- 
bone of the Money Power 

The most effective invention for the centralized 
control of capital and credit which the ingenuity of 
high finance has contrived, is the interlocking di- 

The scheme is simple. To establish a common 
interest and bind together great banking concerns 
the necessary stock is acquired by purchase or ex- 
change in the various banks of an extended chain 
of such institutions, which it is desired to combine. 
This carries with it the right of representation on 
'the several boards of directors and unifies the or- 
ganization. It establishes a stable working connec- 
tion which mere commercial exchanges in the or- 
dinary course of banking transactions cannot begin 
to approach. In short, it enables a few men to ex- 
ercise wide control over all who must deal with 
these allied banks. It is the backbone of the money 

La Follette's Magazine, September 27, 1913. 

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Instruments of Democracy 

OR years the American people have 
been engaged in a terrific struggle 
with the allied forces of organized 
wealth and political corruption. Bat- 
tles have been won and lost. The un- 
equal contest goes on. The lesson is obvious. The 
people must have in reserve new weapons for every 
emergency, if they are to regain and preserve con- 
trol of their government. 

The forces of special privilege are deeply en- 
trenched. Their resources are inexhaustible. Their 
efforts never relax. Their political methods are in- 
sidious. It is impossible for the people to maintain 
perfect organization in mass. They are often taken 
unawares and are liable to lose at one stroke the 
achievements of years of effort. In such a crisis 
nothing but the united power of the people ex- 
pressed directly through the ballot can overthrow 
the enemy. 

Through the initiative, referendum and recall the 
people in any emergency can absolutely control. 
The initiative and referendum make it possible for 
them to demand a direct vote and repeal bad laws 
which, have been enacted, or to enact by direct vote 
good measures which their representatives refuse 

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174 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

to consider. The recall enables the people to dis- 
miss from public service those representatives who 
dishonor their commissions by betraying the public 
interest. These measures will prove so effective 
a check against unworthy representatives that it 
will rarely be found necessary to invoke them. 
People Have Last Word 

Constitutions and statutes and all the complex 
details of government are but instruments created 
by the citizen for the orderly execution of his will. 
Whenever and wherever they fail, they will be so 
changed as to make them effective to execute and 
express the well-considered judgment of the citizen. 

For over and above constitutions and statutes, 
and greater than all, is the supreme sovereignty of 
the people! 

We need not fear, Mr. President. This is the 
people's government. They will not destroy it. 
They will not permit organized privilege to destroy 
its vital principle. They will restore and forever 
preserve it as a government that shall be truly rep- 
resentative of the will of the people. 

They know that the initiative and referendum 
will place in the hands of the people the power to 
protecjt themselves against the mistakes or indiffer- 
ence of their representatives in the legislature. 
Then it will always be possible for the people to 
demand a direct vote and to repeal a bad law which 
the legislature has enacted, or to enact by direct 
vote a good measure which the legislature has re- 
fused to consider. 

The recall will enable the people to dismiss from 
public service a representative whenever he shall 

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Initiative, Referendum, Recall 275 

cease to serve the public interest. Then no jack- 
pot politician can hold his office in defiance of the 
will of a constituency whose commission he has 

Wherever representative government fails, it fails 
because the representative proves incompetent or 
false to his trust. Intrenched in office for his full 
term, his constituency is powerless and must sub- 
mit to misrepresentation. There is no way to cor- 
rect his blunders or to protect against his betrayal. 
At the expiration of his service he may be replaced 
by another who will prove equally unworthy. The 
citizen is entitled to some check, some appeal, some 
relief, some method of halting and correcting the 
evils of misrepresentation and betrayal. 

La FoUette's Magazine, October 17, 1914. 

To the Voters of Wisconsin 

I believe in the intelligence and patriotism of the 
people of Wisconsin. I believe they are capable of 
self-government. The common, average judgment 
of the community is always wise, rational and trust- 
worthy. I would see them clothed with the largest 
power to say the final word as to the laws under 
which they are to live and the government they 

The repujblican platform of Wisconsin is the 
strongest guarantee yet given for perpetuating self- 
government. If the pledges of the republican plat- 
form become the law of this state, government of 
the people, by the people, will be forever safe in 

A perfected primary law will insure majority 
nomination. Then the will of the majority can no 

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176 La PoUettc's Political Philosophy 

longer suffer defeat through division of votes among 
several candidates representing the same principles. 

A strong corrupt practices law will limit the use 
of money in elections. Then no man can buy po- 
litical office and power in Wisconsin and the public 
service will be equally within the reach of all men. 

Fellow citizens, if you would insure faithful and 
efficient administration of progressive legislation 
enacted in recent years, — the regulation of railway 
rates and services, the regulation of the rates and 
services of all public utilities, the collection of a 
just and reasonable tax upon all public-service cor- 
porations in this state, the rigid enforcement of the 
pure food and dairy statutes, the thorough inspec- 
tion of factories, the strict enforcement of laws for 
the protection of the public health, the vigilant su- 
pervision of insurance, the advancement and sup- 
port of our educational system, the proper care and 
management of our charitable and penal institu- 
tions — if you would secure the conservation and 
control of waterpowers by the state for the benefit 
of all the people, the enactment of a graduated in- 
come tax law, home rule for cities, the benefits of a 
workmen's compensation statute, a thorough in- 
NTCStigation of co-operative buying and selling, 
storage and warehousing as affecting the farmer 
and the consumer, co-operative credit and collective 
bargaining and arbitration between employers and 
employees, — if you approve of the course of the 
progressive representatives of Wisconsin in con- 
gress, their fight against a tariff bill that violated 
platform pledges and imposed ever increasing 
burdens upon the consumer, their struggle to frame 

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Initiative, Referendum, Recall 177 

a just and efficient postal savings bank law to serve 
the interests of the people rather than promote the 
interests of Wall Street, their successful labors in 
so reconstructing the railway rate bill as to make 
it a public benefit instead of a positive public 
injury — if you would maintain Wisconsin as the 
leader of this great progressive movement to 
restore government to the people, then make the 
majority for the principles declared in this platform 
and for the candidates who really and truly repre- 
sent those principles, the largest and most decisive 
ever recorded in the history of the state. 
Voter Wields Supreme Power 
At no time in the last half century has there been 
such imperative reason for patriotic independence 
on the part of the American voter. The ballot is his 
weapon. He should use it everywhere independent- 
ly, fearlessly. Teach both political parties that they 
can no longer play the voter for a fool. Strike down 
as an enemy of the republic any candidate of any 
party . whose past record or present connection 
marks him as the agent of special interests. To 
seek to invoke in this hour of the life of American 
democracy the party spirit to maintain party solidar- 
ity, and to assure a party victory regardless of the 
relative merits of opposing candidates, regardless 
of a record of subserviency to privilege, is a sur- 
render of every principle that has made the progres- 
sive movement the hope of millions. Let it go to 
the country on November eighth that .Wisconsin 
places service to the public interest above service 
to any political party, and that her progressive 
leaders never betrayed their cause. Sometimes, 

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178 La PoUcttc's Political Philosophy 

mistaken in men, they have suffered humiliation and 
temporary reverses, but the leaders of the progres- 
sive movement and the great mass of the voters in 
Wisconsin, have kept the faith alike, and regardless 
of party, have fought a good fight, a successful fight 
to make state government in Wisconsin a real rep- 
resentative democracy. 

Letter to Wisconsin Voters, November 3, 1910. 

The Recall 

* * * I do not believe you will ever get any true 
representative government in the United States, 
until there is in the hands of the people the power 
to recall the representative who betrays them. 

Every business institution in America has that 
right in the case of an unfaithful employee, — ^be he 
a cashier in a bank, the manager of a big trust con- 
cern, the president of a railroad. It does not make 
any difference how long the term of office or the 
term of contract of such a man, if it be found that 
the man failed to serve faithfully under the terms 
of his contract and had betrayed the party to whom 
he has made obligations in his contract of faithful 
service, he can be thrown out of his position. 

But the United States Senator and Member of the 
House of Representatives and the other gentlemen 
who may get in under false pretenses, pretending to 
represent the public interest, and who then betray 
the public interest, cannot be driven from pOAver 
for six years or four years or two years. I think 
that is unfair to the public. 

Speech in U, S, Senate, June 28, 1919. 

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The Election of Federal Judges 

HIS IS a democracy. The people shall 

The ballot should be the safeguard 
against bloodshed and anarchy. Wise 
men will look to the future through the 
history of the past. They will desire to avoid the 
throes of revolution by force by peaceful change 
through the ballot and we will win. We shall not, 
we must not, let this thing go on to bloody tragedy. 
Government must be made more responsible to 
the people. Life terms of office should be abolished. 
The appointing power should be limited to ad- 
ministrative officers. Federal judges with powers 
greater than the Congress should be subject to elec- 
tion by the people, as judges are in the state courts. 
Upon their records as judges they should be re- 
quired to go to the people. 

From "Sanctified Crime," La Follette^s 
Magazine, March, 1920. 

The Sacred Rights of Property 

Why should we temporize? Why should we ap- 
proach this subject on tiptoe, with apology to spe- 
cial interests and apostrophe to property rights? 
Honest wealth, needs no guaranty of security in thi3 

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i8o La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

country. Property rightfully acquired does not be- 
get fear — it fosters independence, confidence, cour- 
age. Property which is the fruit of plunder feels 
insecure. It is timid. It is quick to cry for help. 
It is ever proclaiming the sacredness of vested 
rights. The thief can have no vested rights in stolen . 
property. I resent the assumption that the g^eat 
wealth of this country is safe only when the million- 
aires are on guard. Property rights are not the spe- 
cial charge of the owners of great fortunes. Even 
the poor may be relied upon to protect property. 
They have so little — ^the little they have is so preci- 
ous — that they are easily enlisted to defend the 
rights of property. 

Speech, U, S. Senate, April ig-21, 1906, on 
''Regulation of Railway Rates and Services." 

A Judicial Oligarchy 

The judiciary has grown to be the most powerfijl 
institution in our government. It, more than any 
other, may advance or retard human progress. 
Evidence abounds that, as constituted today, the 
courts pervert justice almost as often as they ad- 
minister it. Precedent and procedure have com- 
bined to make one law for the rich and another for 
the poor. The regard of the courts for fossilized 
precedent, their absorption in technicalities, their 
detachment from the vital, living facts of the pres- 
ent day, their constant thinking on the side of the 
rich and powerful and privileged classes have 
brought our courts into conflict with the democratic 
spirit and purposes of this generation. Moreover, 
by usurping the power to declare laws unconstitu- 

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Federal Judges and Injunctions i8i 

tional and by presuming to read their own views 
into statutes without regard to the plain intention 
of the legislators, they have become in reality the 
supreme law-making institution of our government. 
They have taken to themselves a power it was never 
intended they should exercise ; a power greater than 
that entrusted to the courts of any other enlightened 
nation. And because this tremendous power has 
been so generally exercised on the side of the 
wealthy and powerful few, the courts have become 
at la^ the strongest bulwark of special privilege. 
They have come to constitute what may indeed be 
termed a "judicial oligarchy." 

Sensing this, the people have become distrustful. 
In various ways they have shown their dissatisfac- 
tion with the work of the courts. Severe attacks 
have been made recently upon the integrity and 
ability of certain judges. Everywhere there is a 
growing public demand for a change that will bring 
the judiciary again into its proper sphere and into 
closer communion with the progressive ideals of 
this generation. 

La Follette*s Magazine, June 22, 19 12. 

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What is the Progressive Movement? 

i FTER all it is a simple matter to define 
the progressive movement. It can be 
expressed in a single sentence. It 
comprehends the aspirations of the 
human race in its struggle from the 
beginning down to the present time. 

The will of the people shall be the law of the 
land. Constitutions, statutes and all of the com- 
plex details of government are but instruments to 
carry out the will of the people, and when they fail 
— when constitutions and statutes and all of the 
agencies employed to execute constitutions and stat- 
utes fail — ^they must be changed so as to carry out 
and express the well' formulated judgment and the 
v/ill of the people. For over all and above all, and 
greater than all, and expressing the supreme sov- 
ereignty of all, are the people. 

Address at Republican Platform Convention, 1910. 

Origin of the Movement 

The essence of the progressive movement, as I 
see it, lies in its purpose to uphold the fundamental 
principles of representative government. It ex- 
presses the hopes and desires of millions of common 

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The Progressive Movement 183 

men and women who are willing to fight for their 
ideals, to take defeat if necessary, and still go on 

In the state of Wisconsin the progressive move- 
ment expressed itself in the rise to power of the 
Patrons of Husbandry. The Grange movement 
swept four or five middle western states, expressing 
vigorously the first powerful revolt against the rise 
of monopolies, the arrogance of railroads and the 
waste and robbery of the public lands. 

In Wisconsin the granger movement went so far 
as to cause a political revolution and the election in 
1874 of a democratic governor. A just and compre- 
hensive law for regulating the railroads was passed 
and a strong railroad commission was instituted. 
It was then, indeed, that the railroads began to dom- 
inate politics for the first time in this country. They 
saw that they must either accept control by the state 
or control the state. They adopted the latter course ; 
they began right there to corrupt Wisconsin — in- 
deed to corrupt all the states of the middle west. 
And as usual they were served by the cleverest law- 
yers and writers that money could hire. 

Introduction to Autobiography, 1913. 

Wisconsin's Progressive Laws 

Wisconsin stands in the forefront of states by 
reason of the progressive legislation enacted under 
Republican administration during the last ten years, 
including laws for direct nominations; for an un- 
trammeled vote at the election ; for the ad valorem 
system of taxing railroads; to remove the pernici- 
ous in&wnce of the lobby in legislation; to pro- 

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i84 La Follette*s Political Philosophy 

mote education and particularly agricultural and in- 
dustrial training; to provide adequate regulation 
through the railroad commission of rates and serv- 
ices of railroads and public utilities; to conserve 
the state domain through the forestry commission ; 
to regulate insurance ; to protect employees in haz- 
ardous occupations ; to regulate child labor ; to pre- 
vent adulteration in foods; and to protect public 
health by sanitary regulations. 

Republican State Platform, 1910. 

Keeping Faith with the People 

I am informed by your committee that you have 
elected me to represent Wisconsin as United 
States senator. Assembled in joint session under 
organic and statutory law you are empowered to 
speak for all the people of this commonwealth. Any 
man, at any time in his life, may well regard an 
election to the. United States senate as the highest 
honor to which he can attain in the public service. 
That you should have chosen me at this time, and 
in this way, and in the spirit manifested, fills me 
with a sense of gratitude I can in no wise express. 
You have bestowed upon me, unsought, the great- 
est distinction which any state can confer upon any 
citizen. This mark of your confidence I shall 
cherish in grateful memory while I live. 

Whenever I have believed that I could be helpful 
in the public service, I have frankly and openly de- 
clared my candidacy. It has seemed to me the more 
honorable way. Months ago, had I been free to 
become a candidate for the office of United States 
senator, I should have so declared at that time. 
But for many years, issues in which I feel a pro- 

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The Progressive Movement 185 

found interest have been pending in this state. Be- 
lieving that I could best serve the public by so do- 
ing, I offered myself as a candidate for governor in 
support of these issues. I was twice elected, and, 
ae God gave me to see the right, served the state as 
best I could. Great progress was made, but the 
work was unfinished. To assist in that unfinished 
work, I was, for the third time, elected governor. 

I am sure that none of you, who have borne with 
me the bitterness and fury of campsligns for a dec- 
ade of time, would, for any consideration, endanger 
the consummation and protection of that work in 
which we have been engaged. 

We have seen it grow from the assertion of prin- 
ciple to the enactment of broad and comprehensive 
statutes which bulwark and fortify the foundations 
of representative government. We have seen it 
grow in interest until it passed the boundaries of 
the state and fixed the attention of the nation, and 
we have seen it expand upon the national side into 
the dominant issue in national legislation, where it 
has slumbered for many years. 

I would not have any member of the legislature, 
nor any citizen of the commonwealth, believe that I 
do not comprehend the wide scope of the duties of 
the high office of United States senator, nor of the 
obligation it carried to serve impartially the whole 
state and the whole nation, and all the people, and 
all the people's interests. 

Feels Solemn Responsibility 

But I believe I am not blinded by any feeling of 
prejudice, nor warped by any hard experience, in 
regarding the past decade in political history in 

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i86 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Wisconsin and the next decade in the political his- 
tory of the United States, as epochmaking years in 
state and national government. There are import- 
ant patriotic duties of this generation of men to per- 
form in both of these great fields. Mindful as I 
must always be and you must always be — for the 
most of you carry wounds and scars of this long 
civic strife — of the profound significance of the last 
ten years of political history in Wisconsin for the 
principles which underlie government by the peo- 
ple, your action in electing me United States senator 
seems to come as a commission from you, and the 
people of the state through you, to carry a message, 
out of our service here, into the wider field of na- 
tional legislation. Your call invites me to partici- 
pate in that great work, which was to deal immedi- 
ately with the problems President Roosevelt has 
courageously pressed upon congress for solution. 

I appreciate that you have the same sense of 
obligation to the people of Wisconsin which I have. 
I fully realize that if you did not believe I could 
serve the people's interests better as senator than as 
governor, you would not have taken this action today. 

It would, indeed, be presumptuous for me to as- 
sume that you have not fully considered every 
phase of every question that can be raised by the 
action which you have taken. It would be doubly 
presumptuous in me to assume that my presence 
here is vital. I do not indulge that presumption> 
but I cannot at this time wholly divest myself of a 
sense of duty to the people of Wisconsin that, how- 
ever difficult to define in specific terms, nevertheless 
exists, and is a valid reason for the course I am 

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The Progressive Movement 197 

impelled to take, and which I trust your deliberate 
judgment will commend. For all of us must recog- 
nize the common obligation. We are commissioned 
by the same sovereign authority. We have accepted 
from them the same trust. The obligation is bind- 
ing and the trust is sacred. They must be kept in- 
violate and fulfilled according to their intent and 
spirit. To achieve this we must each, in his own 
sphere, give to the state all that an important offi- 
cial duty, once assumed, may demand. 

Pledges Faithfulness to People 

We are at the very beginning of the session, and 
while at the present time there would seem to be no 
reason for any conflict of obligation, and while I 
do not believe that any one can arise in state and 
national affairs to make that which today seems 
plain and simple appear complex and difficult, 
nevertheless, I desire to exercise every possible pre- 
caution against future contingencies. 

I wish to be entirely frank with you and the peo- 
ple of the state, as I have always tried to be. There 
shall be no concealments nor any misunderstanding 
through any fault of mine. If a public office is a 
public trust, there should be no deception on the 
part of the official in the relation to those for whom 
he holds the trust. 

I cannot but feel I was elected governor of this 
state because the people believed I stood for cer- 
tain things in government, and that I would not re- 
lax my efforts until I had done all in my power legit* 
imately as governor to accomplish certain results. 

If, at the very beginning of the session, before any 
legislation has been enacted, before there is any cer- 

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i88 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

tainty that there will not be a conflict in duty as 
United States senator-elect and as governor of the 
state, I accept without qualification or explanation 
the honor you have tendered me, I fear my action 
would be misinterpreted by the people of Wiscon- 
sin. It might lessen their faith in official obliga- 
tion, it might undermine their confidence, and 
weaken their interest in the final fulfillment of the 
pledges made to them. I cannot believe that we can 
even partially fail in the faithful performance of 
every duty. I cannot at present see what I could do 
as governor for this legislation after this session 
should terminate, if there were failure, either in 
whole or in part, which I might not do equally well, 
and, perhaps, more effectively, as a United States 
senator, in co-operation with the people of this 
commonwealth for a people's government. But, 
recognizing, as I must, the present obligations^which 
rest upon me, I am compelled to be in readiness to 
meet any unforeseen issue which may develop. 

For these reasons, then, I say, in accepting your 
high commission, that, if there should appear any 
conflict in the obligation I entered into when I took 
the oath of office as governor, and that of United 
States senator-elect, then I shall ask you to receive 
it from me and place it in other hands of your own 
choosing. The selection of United States senator is 
your prerogative and will, of course, be preserved 
to you. . 

Huge Task Seen Ahead 

That it would call for any great personal sacrifice 
on my part to be compelled for any reason to de- 
cline, the office of United States senator, I need 

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The Progressive Movement 189 

scarcely say. The opportunity which you offer to 
me to serve the state is the greatest which could 
come to any man in this generation. At no time^ 
since the close of the war, have the essential prin- 
ciples of popular government been in greater peril. 
The government is seeking to control public-service 
corporations and industrial combinations are seek- 
ing to control government. The next few years 
will test the vital principles of democracy in this 
country as never before. 

Gentlemen, I thank you from a full heart for this 
great opportunity, this great honor, this great trust. 
I feel that the close relationship and mutual con- 
fidence which have heretofore existed between my- 
self and the people of Wisconsin are equally vital 
as between the people and one elected to serve as 
United States senator. If that relation continues, 
it shall ever be my care to strengthen and preserve 
that intimacy and confidence. State government 
and national government are inseparably associated 
and constantly react upon each other. The inter- 
dependence in the spirit is closer than in the letter 
of the law. 

If I enter this service, it will be in the hope that 
friendships and associations with the people will 
strengthen and increase. That the republican party 
will iind me in sympathy with and enlisted in the 
support of issues which deeply concern state gov- 
ernment, and that in so far as I have ability and 
power, I shall represent all the interests of the 
state and sacredly keep faith with the people in all 

Speech on Election as U, S. SencUor, Jan. 25, 1905. 

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Preparedness Should be for Defense 

HE present congress will pass a mili- 
tary program that will impose upon the 
people of the United States the great- 
est tax burden for an alleged prepared- 
^ ness against an alleged danger that has 
ever been known in any country at peace with all 
the world. 

The appropriations by the present congress for 
all military purposes, that is to say for army and 
navy and coast defense, military academies, naval 
academies and pensions, will approximate the sum 
of $840,000,000. 

For the same purpose a year ago congress appro- 
priated in round numbers $429,000,000. The ap- 
propriation for this year is nearly double that of a 
year ago. 

This appropriation is so colossal as to stagger the 
imagination. Applying the figures to Wisconsin 
we find that Wisconsin's share of this military 
and naval appropriation will be approximately 

This is equivalent to $8 per capita, that is $8 
each for every man, woman and child in the state. 
Counting five persons to the family it is equivalent 
to $40 for each family. 

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Militarism 19 z 

You understand that government revenues are 
largely raised by tariffs or taxes on the things we 
eat and wear, and use in our daily life. As a gen- 
eral rule it is not a direct tax and you do not ap- 
preciate the day of reckoning, but it is a constant 
drain on the resources of the American people. 
There is something to pay today and every day. 
It goes into the cost of living and adds to the bur- 
dens of the poor. 

What do we want of an increased navy and an 
increased army such as this great military program 
provides ? What changed conditions warrant doub- 
ling the appropriation of a year ago ? There is ab- 
solutely nothing in the situation, nothing in the 
conditions that can be made to justify placing this 
extortionate tax burden upon the people of the 
United States. There is not one substantial reason 
why this congress should double the appropriation 
for military purposes at this time. 

They claim that we are preparing for defense, 
not for aggression. Logfically we should inquire 
first of all as to our coast defenses, should we not? 
What about our coast defenses? 

The highest authority on this subject is Gen. 
Erasmus Weaver. He testified before the house 
committee on military affairs that "We have the 
best coast defenses in the world. The guns now 
mounted and those contemplated will give us an 
entirely satisfactory defense." 

Speech at Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, 1916. 
Prepare for Peaceful Industry not War 

According to the statement of Gen. Nelson A. 
Miles, we have expended $200,000,000 upon our 

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iga La Follette's Political Philosophy 

coast defenses. I do not disparage expenditures for 
this purpose. I give them my cordial support. 
Coast fortifications, coast artillery and a sufficient 
mobile force of soldiers for coast and harbor de- 
fense, I will as strongly support as any other man. 
They are for defense. They cannot be used for 
overseas conquest; they cannot be used to coerce 
weaker nations in the interest of speculative in- 
vestors in foreign countries. They offer little or no 
inducement for powerful war traders to lobby con- 
gress for extravagant appropriations. They con- 
stitute one class of expenditures for preparedness 
which makes for peace instead of war. 

Just in the proportion that they destroy the sol- 
diery of Europe, just as they feed the men between 
i8 and 45 years of age to the cannons, wiping out 
ten to twelve millions of the virile manhood of the 
world, just by so much the reasons diminish why 
we should begin an extravagant, extortionate pro- 
gram of taxation upon the people of this country 
for what we call preparedness. 

I want you to understand that for the past 15 
years our naval appropriations have exceeded those 
of Germany by 50 per cent., they have exceeded 
those of Japan by 300 per cent., and now in this 
last year of our Lord 1916, we double the appro- 
priation of the preceding year, and the appropria- 
tion of 1915 was $55,000,000 more than Great Brit- 
ain had expended on her navy during any year of 
peace. Compare the preparations for peace with the 
preparations for war. The Panama canal, the great- 
est and most extensive piece of engineering the 
world has ever seen, cost the United States $400,- 

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Militarism 193 

000,000. But one appropriation for war preparation 
cost the United States more than twice the vast 
sum, or nearly $800,000,000. 

We have better uses for our money. 
Beneficent Use of Money 

Let us prepare the manhood and the womanhood 
of our country for the struggles of peace ; more com- 
pensation for the industrial soldiers who fall by the 
wayside by reason of the hazards of their occupa- 
tions; more compensation to their widows and 
children ; pensions for the aged and infirm who have 
failed in the struggle of life to gain a pittance 
against old age or misfortune; more wages; more 
education ; more money for the common good ; more 
money to fight contagious diseases. This is the 
preparedness toward which we should turn. We 
should spend less to prepare to kill and more to 
prepare to live. 

I stand for adequate defense of our country 
against any aggressor, but when our capitalists 
draw their money from this country to stake it on 
the turn of fortune's wheel in some foreign land, 
let them take the gambler's chance. If money is to 
be spent to make their foreign risks secure, let it 
be their own money. If lives are to be risked, men 
sacrificed to protect their possessions in foreign 
lands, let it be their own lives that take the hazard. 
Believing in democracy, the right of self-govern- 
ment — ready to defend the precious heritage of our 
own sovereignty — let us here and now resolve and 
declare that we will never permit the armed force 
of the United States to be used to despoil our sister 
republics of their property, nor to interfere with 

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194 Ld FoUette's Political Philosophy 

their right to govern themselves according to their 
own standard, nor violate their sovereignty — ^as 
sacred to them as our sovereignty is to us. 

Mr. President, the interests that are behind this 
preparedness program in the United States do 
not fear Germany, do not fear England, do not 
fear any nation on this earth; but they do want a 
large army, they do want a large navy. It fits into 
the commercial, industrial, and imperialistic schemes 
of the great financial masters of this country. 

Senators may think it expedient to vote for this 
increased appropriation at this time. The people 
may be under a certain vague fear and in doubt 
now, but when they see that their fears have been 
played upon, when the tax burden comes, when the 
weight begins to press down, when you double on 
every member of the family the cost of sustaining 
this military program, then you will be called to 
account, then you will have to answer their stern, 
deliberate, second judgment. 

The danger of an attack upon our country has 
been made to appear very real and very imminent. 
It has been painted in lurid colors — ^motion pictures 
showing New York's splendid edifices toppling to 
destruction under the shots of enemy guns, the 
enemy garbed to convey the idea that they are Ger- 
mans ; volumes written to show New York and New 
Orleans and San Francisco already captured; that 
the foreign hordes are sweeping across the coun- 
try^ — have these volumes been sent to you, Sena- 
tors? I have received them. Who do you suppose 
pays for all this? Why, the Du Pont Powder Co. 
had a hand in it; the Bethlehem Steel Co. doubt- 

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Militarism 195 

less made its contribution of millions of money. 
It was paid for out of the bloody profits made from 
shipping arms and ammunition abroad within the 
last year. 

True, the American people may be influenced by 
the advertisements of the Bethlehem Steel Co., may 
be swayed by the headlines and editorials of the 
great metropolitan press. They may be deeply 
moved, the blood may tingle and the pulse quick- 
ened to the strains of hundreds of bands playing as 
hundreds of thousands of men and women march 
in parade ; but when it is known that many Ameri- 
can citizens felt impelled to march in fear of a 
penalty — ^the loss of wages or of being discharged — 
it alters folks' attitude as to the impressiveness of 
such demonstrations. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, July 19-20, 1916. 
Mexico and Financial Imperialism 

Back of all modem war is practically one policy. 
It is financial imperialism. It is the scheme of using 
the surplus wealth wrung unlawfully from the peo- 
ple of a country by the financial interests that dom- 
inate that country, and the use of that surplus 
wealth through investments in the weaker, unde- 
veloped governments of the world. 

The Boer war which lasted three years cost Great 
Britain $1,250,000,000. 

And it did not accomplish anything! 

Keep that in mind when some of the gentlemen 
who are speaking for American investments in Mex- 
ico clamor for war with Mexico. There is a mo- 
mentous lesson in the efforts of the representatives 
of two nations to arrive at an understanding and 

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196 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

avert the consequences of war. But if there should 
come some flaming up of passions, if there should 
come some opportunity for the representatives of 
those who have bought Mexico with American 
money and want to rule it — want intervention — then 
let us all remember what happened to England in 
an effort to subjugate the Boers. 

If we ever enter upon the conquest of Mexico — 
and the office of prophecy is a somewhat hazardous 
one — let me say that in a hundred years we will 
not conquer Mexico; we will maintain for a hun- 
dred years a standing army of a million men in 
Mexico; we will place the burden of that on the 
American people. 

If the time ever comes when we shall attempt to 
invade Mexico, it will be because American capital 
has gone down there and invested. They who own 
Mexico are the ones who want war. 

Now, Mr. President, it may be a new doctrine to 
the senate of the United States, but I think it is 
pretty nearly time to have the issue made. It may 
not win in the first struggle here. It will win ulti- 
mately, because it is everlastingly right. That is 
the reason for the amendment I have offered. 

I believe every dollar that goes into a foreign 
country and every m,an who goes into a foreign 
country with his money looking for profits should 
accept the laws of the country as the arbiter to 
which he will appeal for justice if he feels at any 
time that he is required to protect his rights in that 

The thing that attracts capital to Mexico is its 
rich natural resources. They have an unstable gov- 

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Militarism 197 

ernment there. That unstable government lowers 
the value of property. American money there can 
buy for $100,000 because of the government con- 
ditions, property that is worth a million dollars. 
Mow, if this new doctrine that the flag shall follow 
the investment of the citizen is to prevail, then our 
government is to be called upon to guarantee the 
speculative investments of its citizens in the coun- 
tries where the governments are weak, and so to 
make those speculative investments worth face 

The people of the United States do not want war 
with Mexico. The Mexican people do not want 
war with us. And both President Wilson and Car- 
rariza have manifestly done everything in their 
power to avert war. 

. What is it, then, that menaces the peace of these 
neighboring countries ? 

The Game of Foreign Investors 

It dates far back of the Columbus raid. That 
outrage upon the residents of one of our border 
towns was the logical outcome of conditions for 
which the Mexican people were in nowise respon- 
sible. Worse than that! Both Governments were 
the victims of traitors in our midst. For it is 
charged upon the highest authority that the raid 
was inspired and arranged for in our own country. 

There you have it! The gentlemen who want 
war with Mexico are the gentlemen who "have 
Mexican properties." They are a very powerful lot. 
They own most of the United States and a good big 
slice of Mexico. They are our captains of indus- 

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1 98 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

try; our masters of finance. They own or control 
our great newspapers. They are for a "strong Mex- 
ican policy," a "strong foreign policy," a big army, 
a big navy. 

There is just one risk, and that is a large risk. 
The governments are most of them weak. Revolu- 
tions in many of them are frequent; property rights, 
are insecure. 

But a scheme has been worked out by the mas- 
ters of finance to make foreign investments as good 
as a government bond. Just put the stars and 
stripes back of them. 

The interests of this country are confronted with 
the alternative of loaning their surplus wealth to 
the farmer, to the merchant, to the small enterprise 
at a constantly lowering interest rate or of with- 
drawing the surplus capital from this country, 
keeping interest rates high here and going down 
into the weak governments of Mexico, Central and 
South America, which are rich in natural resources, 
minerals, oil, timber, coal, and iron, surpassing all 
imagination, we are told, and acquiring control 

As a protest against the use of our navy to en- 
force the claims of these interests, I have offered 
the following amendment: 

Provided, That no battleship, cruiser, scout 
cruiser, torpedo-boat, destroyer, or submarine here- 
in appropriated for shall be employed in any manner 
to coerce or compel the collection of any pecuniary 
claim of any kind, class, or nature, or to enforce any 
claim or right to any grant or concession for or on 

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Militarism 199 

behalf of any private citizen, copartnership, or cor- 
poration of the United States against the govern- 
ment of Mexico or of any Central or South Ameri- 
can government. 

When our capitalists withdraw their money from 
this country to stake it on the turn of fortune's 
wheel in some foreign land, let them take the gam- 
bler's chance. 

If money is to be spent to make their foreign 
risks secure, let it be their own money. If lives are 
to be risked to protect their Mexican mines — their 
Central and South American concessions — let it be 
their own lives that take the hazard. 

Believing in democracy, in the right of self-gov- 
ernment — ready to defend the precious heritage of 
our own sovereignty — let us here and now resolve 
and declare that we will never permit the armed 
forces of the United States to be used to despoil 
our sister republics of their property, interfere with 
their right to govern themselves according to their 
own standards or violate their sovereignty — as 
sacred to them as American sovereignty is to us. 
Speech in U, S. Senate, July 19-20, 1916. 

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The Meaning of War 

T is well for us to remember that war 
is always cruel; that its iron tread 
^ means destruction and devastation, 
whether its march is across Europe or 
from Atlanta to the sea; that war 
arouses all the fiercest human passions; that there 
are always, cases of brutality and outrage — and that 
usually there is quite as much of it on one side as 
upon the other. 

La Follette's Magazine, Oct. 17, 1914. 

Resolution for Conference of Neutral Nations 

WHEREAS the most powerful nations of Europe 
have been engaged for over half a year in a terrible 
War of cumulative intensity and increasing destruc- 
tion of human life ; and wherea3, recent inventions 
have revolutionized methods of wiarfare giving rise 
to unprecedented situations and conditions; and 
whereas the ever widening field of hostile operations 
in the war zone encroaches more and more day by 
day upon the common highways of commerce, in- 
viting to complications which may at any moment 
entagle one or more of the neutral nations in situa- 
tions of the gravest peril ; and 

WHEREAS it becomes of the utmost importance 
that at the earliest moment a conference of the neu- 

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Kdmonston Stiulio. 
Washington, I). C. 

Robert M. La Follette 

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War aoi 

tral nations called to consider the rights 
of netttrals under existing conditions, to work out ;a 
policy for the preservation of their own peace, and 
to tender their best offices of mediation to the belli- 
gerent nations; and 

r WHEREAS we, the people of the United States, 
are bound to each of the warring nations by ties of 
blood and country, compelling in us a profound in» 
terest in the cessation of hostilities and the restora- 
tion of peace, and by inheritance are best fitted to 
make initial appeal to each nation ; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, ETC., that the president be author- 
ized to convey to all neutral nations the desire of 
this government that an international conference be 
held for the purpose of promoting by co-operation 
and through its friendly offices: 

First. The early cessation of hostilities and the 
establishment of peace among the warring nations 
of Europe ; 

Second. The consideration of uniform rules and 
regulations for the gdneral limitation of armaments 
and the nationalization of the manufacture of all 
equipment and supplies used exclusively for military 
"and naval purposes ; 

Third. The consideration of rules and regulisi- 
tions for the prohibition of the export of arms, am- 
munitions, artillery, vessels of war, armor plate, tor- 
pedoes, or any other thing designed exclusively for 
military and naval purposes from one country to 
another ; 

Fourth. The ultimate establishment of an inter- 
national tribunal where any nation may be heard on 
any issue involving rights vital to its peace and the 

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308 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

development of its national life, a tribunal whose 
decrees shall be enforced by the enlightened judg- 
ment of the world. 

Fifth. The consideration of plans for the federa- 
tion of the neutral nations in the adoption of rules 
and regulations which will provide for the neutral- 
ization of certain waters and maritime trade routes, 
and such other and further action as shall insure if 
possible, the peaceful maintenance and preservation 
of the sovereign rights of neutral commerce against 
dangers to which it is exposed through the extrar 
ordinary conditions developed by the world's great- 
est war; and 

Sixth. For such other and further action as may 
tend, however remotely, to establish permanent 
world peace. 

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the president be 
authorized to appoint commissioners to represent 
the United States at any conference whether called 
by the United States or by any other nation. 
Introduced in the U. S. Senate, by 
Senator La Follette, Feb. 8, 19 15, 
Appeal for Conference of Neutral Powers 

The neutrality of the United States cannot and 
should not be that of selfish indifference. It is based 
on sympathetic love and understanding. As a peo- 
ple we are intensely interested in the cessation of a 
war that is slaying our kindred, bringing indescrib- 
able desolation to the lands we love and to the 
homes of our fathers. 

We do not want to see the map of Europe 
changed by might of conquest. We cannot believe 
that it is in the interest of human progress that any 

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War 203 

one of the nations should be wiped off the face of 
the earth. It is our inherent desire that each should 
preserve its natural autonomy; that each should 
have the largest opportunity for self-development, 
the largest share in the world's progress; and that 
each should be given, as of right, access to the high- 
ways of the sea. 

It is a mistaken policy that assumes a community 
of nations can prosper any more than can a com- 
munity of individuals by one or more tyrannizing 
over the others and monopolizing the world's mar- 
kets. The world's greatest progress must be best 
served by the largest possible development of the 
national life of each country. We believe there is 
still room for all in the vast and undeveloped areas 
of the earth. 

Mr. President, I have not attempted to discuss 
in any comjprehensive way the vital questions with 
which the proposed conference would deal. These 
problems the nations themselves must solve. 

What stands out in bold relief is the unmistak- 
able duty of the American congress to authorize the 
president to convey to neutral nations the desire of 
this government for an international conference for 
the purpose of promoting by co-operation and 
through its friendly offices the early cessation of 
hostilities^, the establishment of peace among the 
warring nations of Europe, the clear definition of 
the rights of neutral nations, and for the other pur- 
poses to which I have briefly adverted. 

► Speech, "Conference of Neutral Powers to 
Secure World Peace/* U. S. Senate, 
February 12, 1915. 

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ao4 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Congress Should Prescribe Foreign Policies 

As I understand the pending controversy, the 
president assumes it to be the exclusive prerogative 
of the executive to pursue any foreign policy, what- 
ever the issue, independent of any suggestion from 
either or both branches of congress. 

The peremptory manner in which the administra- 
tion forced action upon the resolution in the senate, 
the extraordinary proceedings by which the resolu- 
tion was changed and tabled, without opportunity 
for debate or explanation, warrants the belief that 
the president denies congress the right to express 
its opinion upon a matter which lies within its con- 
stitutional authority quite as much as that of the 
executive. . 

I believe it to be vital to the safety and perpetuity 
of this government that congress should assert 
and maintain its right to a voice in declaring and 
prescribing the foreign policy of the United States. 

And, sir, there is a larger international aspect of 
this question, with its accompanying responsibility, 
that cannot be shirked or ignored. Across the 
water the nations of Europe are giving their life- 
blood in a fratricidal struggle, which in its inception 
the people neither desired nor sanctioned. 

And now the plain .people, the saner people of the 
warring countries are organizing. For what? Why, 
to make sure that never again after this conflict has 
ceased shall the autocratic heads of European gov- 
ernments have it in their power, through secret di- 

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War 205 

plomacy, to bring on such another world catas- 

Democratic control of foreign policies is a basic 
principle of all organized effort looking for the 
future establishment of permanent world peace. To 
this end, throughout the world, leagues of earnest, 
determined men and women, animated by a common 
purpose, are formulating plans, based on the pro- 
visions by which, in this country, one or both of the 
legislative branches of government have a share in 
the control of international affairs. 

Shall we in this crisis of the world's history fail 
to assert our constitutional rights and by our negli- 
gence and default permit the establishment in this 
country of that exclusive executive control over 
foreign affairs that the people of Europe are now 
repenting amid the agonies of war? 

Speech, "Congress has a Right to an Au- 
thoritative Voice in Declaring and Pre- 
scribing the Foreign Policy of the United 
States," U. S. Senate, March 10, 1916. 

Consult the People 

War is the most ghasfly experience that can come 
to any country. And always it is the people — not 
the handful of men in positions of power — who must 
pay the full price. The price in dollars and cents. 
The price in dismembered families. The price in 
heart agonies. The price in bodily suffering. The 
price in numbed minds. The price in precious hu- 
man lives. The price in putting together the na- 
tion's pieces, afterwards. Always it is the masses 
who pay. 

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2o6 La FoUcttc's Political Philosophy 

Why not let those who must pay have something 
to say? Why not let the people themselves, on 
whom the burden of war falls, have a voice, — some 
direct expression, — along with finance and diplo- 
macy, in determining whether there shall be war, or 
whether there shall not be war? 

I believe that on a question like this, the gravest 
that can possibly come before the people of a na- 
tion, more than on any other problem of national 
policy or well-being, the people should be consulted. 

The day is coming when the people, who always 
pay the full price, are going to have the final say 
over their own destinies. They themselves are go- 
ing to decide whether they shall spill their blood out 
upon murderous battle fields. They themselves 
shall decide what questions of "defense," of "ag- 
gression," or of "national honor" may be involved, 
compelling enough to make them desire to kill and 
be killed. . They who do the fighting and the dying 
will do the deciding. 

The day is not yet here. We should all strive to 
hasten its coming. Meanwhile we should make it 
possible for the people to give voice to their deep 
convictions in a way that will register. Let us have 
an advisory vote upon this matter of war that will 
serve as a dictaphone within the chambers of con- 
gress, through which the voice of the people — the 
people who pay and who suffer — shall indeed reach 
the ears of those who represent them and who have, 
under the constitution, the sole power to declare 

La Follette's Magazine, May, 1916. 

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War 207 

Armed Ship Bill Gave War-Making Power to 

I was opposed to the armed ship bill. Under my 
oath as a senator it was my duty to do everything 
legitimately within my power to defeat it, and I ex- 
ercised my constitutional rights and discharged my 
constitutional obligation to defeat the measure, in 
so far as permitted by the tyrannical action of a 
majority. This majority as I believe, and as I think 
the record plainly shows, resorted to a perversion of 
the rules and to the very filibustering methods 
which it so violently condemned, in order to pre- 
vent me from obtaining the floor to speak against 
the bill. 

The armed ship bill provided that the president be 
authorized to supply our merchant vessels "with 
arms and also the necessary ammunition and means 
of mstking use of them," also that the president be 
'^authorized and empowered to employ such other 
instrumentalities and methods as may in his judg- 
ment and discretion seem necessary and adequate 
to protect such vessels." It appropriated $100,000,- 
000 to be expended by the president "for the pur- 
pose of carrying into effect the foregoing provi- 

The bill attempted to confer upon the executive 
not only the authority to place guns and gunners 
upon merchant ships and send them to sea with 
orders to fire on German submarines at sight, but 
sought to empower the president to use any other 
method and any other instrumentalities in his judg- 
ment necessary to protect such merchant ships. 

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2o8 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

Give validity and effect to such provisions and it 
removes every limitation upon his acts. 

He might do whatever it pleased him to do and 
there could be no check or halt upon him. 

He might decide to order our navy out to convoy 
merchantmen loaded with arms and ammunition, or 
with food and clothing and shoes for the allied 

He might decide that our nayy should patrol the 
trans-Atlantic lanes through the German war zone 
hunting submarines in the interest of the owners of 
our munition ships. 

He might decide that the best way to protect our 
merchant ships would be to land an army in Ger- 
many and destroy the Krupp works and any other 
manufacturing plants where Germany is construct- 
ing submarines. 

Nowhere would there be lodged any power to 
prevent any president from doing anything his 
judgment dictated with the army and navy to pro- 
tect the merchant ships -of our war traders. 

If the language of this bill does not seek to confer 
authority which would leave it in his discretion to 
make war, then there is no power in human lan- 
guage which could accomplish that result. 

The armed ship bill is therefore contrary to the 
letter and spirit of the constitution, which expressly 
vests the war power in congress — ^without which 
provision the constitution could not have been 

La Follette's Magazine, March, 1917. 

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War 209 

People Opposed to Entering the War 

For my own part, I look upon Europe as cursed 
with a contagious, a deadly plague, whose spread 
threatens to devastate the civilized world. If it 
were indeed the Black Death that was mowing 
down its millions of victims, instead of this more 
ghastly war, we should not hesitate to quarantine 
against it ; we should keep our ships in their ports 
and our people at home without any hesitation what- 
soever; all personal consideration, all thought of 
material loss, or commercial inconvenience would 
fall before the necessity of protecting our people 
from being stricken with the dread disease. 

I am not an extremist, I do not say there may 
not be supreme principles for which men must fight 
to the death as a last resort. But I do believe that 
as organized society in its slow evolution has de- 
veloped more rational means of ^settling individual 
differences than brute force, so must the nations of 
the world ultimately find other ways of deciding 
their disagreements than war. 

So far as the masses of men who are killing each 
other are concerned, the European war is a bootless 
conflict. The multitudes who are dying in the 
trenches and the millions who are suffering more 
agonizing pain at home, do not know what it is all 
about. They are doing their patriotic duty as they 
have been told to do it. 

It is unthinkable that with this awful object les- 
son before them, the American people are never- 
theless today being stampeded into war in blind 
thoughtlessflpi^jg pf its awful consequences. Thirty- 

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210 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

seven million men are now under arms in Europe. 
The peace strength of the standing armies of 
Europe, before the war began, was less than five 
millions. It follows that more than thirty-two mil- 
lions have been drawn from the farms and industrial 
pursuits, and placed in the trenches to be mowed 
down at the rate of five thousand a day. The 
United States once in, will stay in to the end. Who 
can foretell what it means? 

The United Press, from the casualty lists of the 
belligerent nations, estimates that more than 21,- 
000,000 men have been killed, wounded or reported 
missing, to date, affecting a hundred million non- 
combatants. And these brutal facts of death and 
mutilation only suggest the horrors of the insane 
conflict— women and children homeless, desecrated, 
starving. Already $70,000,000,000 of debt piled up. 
For unnumbered years to come, generations of help- 
less people must bow their bended backs under the 
tax burdens entailed by this war of destruction. 
For long years to come, all the resources that 
should go to the world's betterment, mortgaged be- 
yond redemption to pay for this awful holocaust. 
Think of it! Any economical loss because of the 
interruption of commerce, is but a grain of sand, 
compared to the colossal costs of war. 

Ask any plain citizen if he wants war. The in- 
voluntary answer is "we ought to know better from 
the lesson in Europe." How can we justify the 
insistence of our right to push through the mines 
and submarines of the war zone when that right is 
compared with the obligation to protect all our 
people here at home from the terrible effect of war? 

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War 21 z 

If the silent masses who found opportunity for 
expression at the November election, could today 
make themselves heard above this clamor for war, 
instigated and sustained by the money power and 
subjugated press, they would with even a stronger 
voice, pray God that this country be kept out of war. 
La Follette's Magazine, March, 1917. 

War With Germany 

Mr. President, I had supposed until recently that 
it was the duty of senators and representatives in 
congress to vote and act according to their convic- 
tions on all public matters that came before them 
for consideration and decision. 

Quite another doctrine has recently been pro- 
mulgated by certain newspapers, which unfortu- 
nately seems to have found considerable support 
elsewhere, and that is the doctrine of "standing back 
of the president," without inquiring whether the 
president is right or wrong. For myself I have 
never subscribed to that doctrine and never shall. 
I shall support the president in the measures he 
proposes when I believe them to be right. I shall 
oppose measures proposed by the president when I 
believe them to be wrong. The fact that the matter 
which the president submits for consideration is of 
the greatest importance is only an additional reason 
why we should be sure that we are right and not be 
swerved from that conviction or intimidated in its 
expression by any influence of power whatsoever. 
If it is important for us to speak and vote our con- 
victions in matters of internal policy, though we 
may unfortunately be in disagreement with the 

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212 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

president, it is infinitely more important for us to 
speak and vote our convictions when the question 
is one of peace or war, certain to involve the lives 
and fortunes of many of our people and, it may be, 
the destiny of all of them and of the civilized world 
as well. If, unhappily, on such momentous ques- 
tions the most patient research and conscientious 
consideration we could give to them leave us in dis- 
agreement with the president, I know of no course 
to take except to oppose, regretfully but not the less 
firmly, the demands of the executive. 

^ Speech, 'War With Germany;' 

U. S, Senate, April 4, 1917. 

The Sovereign Power of the People 

We need not disturb ourselves because of what a 
minority may do. There is always lodged, and al- 
ways will be, thank the God above us, power in the 
people supreme. Sometimes it sleeps, sometimes it 
seems the sleep of death; but, sir, the sovereign 
power of the people never dies. It may be sup- 
pressed for a time, it may be misled, befooled, si- 
lenced. I think, Mr. President, that it is being 
denied expression now. I think there will come a 
day when it will have expression. 

The poor, sir, who are the ones called upon to 
rot in the trenches, have no organized power, have 
no press to voice their will' upon this question of 
peace or war; but, oh, Mr. President, at sometime 
they will be heard. I hope and I believe they will 
be heard in an orderly and a peaceful way. I think 
they may be heard from before long. I think, sir, 
if we take this step, when the people today who 

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War 213 

are staggering under the burden of supporting fam- 
iiies at the present prices of the necessaries of life 
find those prices multiplied, when they are raised 
a hundred per cent, or 200 per cent, as they will be 
quickly, aye, sir, when beyond that those who pay 
taxes come to have their taxes doubled and again 
doubled to pay the interest on the nontaxable bonds 
held by Morgan and his combinations, which have 
been issued to meet: this war, there will come an 
awakening; they will have their day and they will 
be heard. It will be as certain and as inevitable as 
the return of the tides, and as resistless, too. 
Speech, 'War With Germany;' 

U. S. Senate, April 4, 1917. 

True Course of Neutrality 

Had the plain principle of international law an- 
nounced by Jefferson been followed by us, we 
would hot be called on today to declare war upon 
any of the belligerents. The failure to treat the 
belligerent nations of Europe alike, the failure to 
reject the unlawful "war zones" of both Germany 
and Great Britain, is wholly accountable for our 
present dilemma. We should not seek to hide our 
blunder behind the smoke of battle, to inflame the 
mind of our people by half truths into the frenzy of 
war, in order that they may never appreciate the 
real cause of it until it is too late. I do not believe 
that our national honor is served by such a course. 
The right way is the honorable way. 

One alternative is to admit our initial blunder to 
enforce our rights against Great Britain as we have 
enforced our rights against Germany ; demand that 

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314 La Pollette's Political Philosophy 

both those nations shall respect our neutral rights 
upon the high seas to the letter! and give notice 
that we will enforce those rights from time forth 
against both belligerents and then live up to that 

The other alternative is to withdraw our com- 
merce from both. The mere suggestion that food 
supplies would be withheld from both sides im- 
partially would compel belligerents to observe the 
principle of freedom of the seas for neutral com- 

Speech, 'War With Germany;' 
U. S. Senate, April 4, 1917. 

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The Purpose of the Draft 

OWEVER uncertain the meaning of 
some portions of this bill may be, its 
main purpose is clear. About that 
there is no dispute. The main pur- 
pose is to clothe one man with power, 
acting through agents appointed by him, to en- 
ter at will every home in our country, at any 
hour of the day or night, using all the force neces- 
sary to effect the entry, and violently lay hold of 
i, 000,000 of our finest and healthiest and strongest 
boys and against their will, and against the will 
and wishes of their parents or family, deport them 
across the seas to a foreign land, and to require 
them, under penalty of death if they refuse, to 
wound and kill other young boys just like them- 
selves and toward whom they feel no hostility and 
have cause to feel none. 

That is what the draft means. I have not over- 
stated — indeed, no one can overstate — ^the horror 
it is proposed to perpetuate, or the insult which it 
conveys to the intelligence and patriotism of the 
people of this country. Anyone who would have 
prophesied one short month ago that this body 
would seriously consider, under existing circum- 
stances, such a measure as this would have raised 
a question as to his sanity. 

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3i6 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

For such action as it is proposed to take by this 
bill under present conditions there is no precedent 
in all our history, and, I believe, there is none in the 
history of any people making the slightest claim to 

The draft is the corollary of militarism and mil- 
itarism spells death to democracy. No war can te 
successfully prosecuted that has not the spontane- 
ous support of the men who do the fighting. There 
is not the shadow of an excuse for pressing men 
into involuntary military servitude for the conduct 
of this war. 

But if we must have an army of such magnitude 
for an overseas expedition let it be a volunteer 
army on the Canadian and Australian basis. Let 
its ranks be made up of free, willing men who de- 
sire to go. This will not raise any constitutional 
question nor be in such flagrant violation of our 
traditions, nor will it necessitate any such upheaval 
of our economic life as this draft proposition seems 
to call for. 

. Speech, ''The Draft/' U. S, Senate, April 27, 1917. 

Let Voters Decide 

I come now to the amendment I have proposed 
providing for an advisory vote on the part of the 
qualified electors upon the following question: 

''The government of the United States having de- 
clared war against the government of Germany; 
shall the United States government at this time raise 
an army by draft to send to Europe to prosecute the 

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Draft and Conscription 217 

The methods by which the advisory vote can be 
obtained are very simple. This vote could be se- 
cured while registration was going forward under 
the bill, which, according to my amendment, strikes 
out the draft features and provides for raising the 
required number of men by voluntary enlistment. 
Practically no expense would be involved in obtain- 
ing the vote, and every voter would be given 
the opportunity of expressing his opinion upon this 
most vital question. If the people vote in favor of 
the draft and of sending the Army to Europe, that 
closes the discussion. 

If the friends of this bill are sure that it has the 
support of the people, they should be the first to 
agree to this amendment. If the principle of the bill 
has not support of the people, it should be aban- 

. Speech, ''The Draft," U, S. Senate, April 27, 1917. 

Cost of War to the Republic 

I do not mean to speak of the horrors of war. Were 
I to do so I should dwell most upon the anguish of 
those at home, of families broken up, hopes blasted, 
bodies crippled, insanity and disease, debt and poverty, 
and want and. famine, which are only a few of the 
results of every great war. I would speak of liberties 
lost, constitutions destroyed, of peoples exterminated 
by the immediate savagery of war or languishing in 
bondage for generations imder^ the tyranny, foreign 
or domestic, military or economic, that always tidies 
in the wake of war. I will not let my mind dwell 
upon the distress and disaster this war is bound to 

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ax8 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

bring us in the future, but we cannot forget what 
has happened in the few days that have elapsed since 
it began. 

What a transformation has been wrought during 
the first few hours of this war ! Only a few days ago 
we were at peace with all the world and cherished 
nothing but the kindliest feeling toward the peoples 
of every land. We were engaged in peaceful occupa- 
tions. Our youth were in the schools and colleges 
of the coimtry fitting themselves for the useful and 
helpful work that they were to do in the world. As 
a nation we were the one great power that was almost 
free from debt and in position to help bring peace to 
a distracted world. As a people we were prosperous. 
Our taxes were relatively light and cheerfully borne 
because they were expended largely for objects calcu- 
lated to promote our material and social welfare. We 
were apparently secure in our liberties, and, slowly 
it may be but none the less surely, we were winning 
peaceful victories for democracy and self-government, 
tiot only for ourselves but for our children and the 
generations to come, which we fondly hoped would 
bring a little nearer the day of peace on earth and 
good will to men. 

But in a moment all this has been changed. We 
have declared war against a government and a people 
with whom we have always previously lived in perfect 
friendship. We have made ourselves distrusted or 
feared by other governments and lost the power we 
had as a neutral nation to promote the cause of p6ace. 
Already our most cherished constitutional rights have 
been invaded and will soon be destroyed. The agent 
provocateur is in our midst. Men are being daily 

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Draft and Conscription 2x9 

cast into prison in violation of the law, and in many 
cases without even regarding the forms of law. 

Within a few months, Under a pretext of carrying 
democracy to the rest of the world, we have done more 
to undermine and destroy democracy in the United 
States than it will be possible for us as a nation to 
repair in a generation of time. 

By a single act the people have been saddled with a 
burden of debt amounting to an average of four or 
five himdred dollars for each responsible head of a 
iamily in our country, and we have scarcely made a 

Never in all my many years of experience in the 
house and in the senate have I heard so much democ- 
racy preached and so little practiced as during the 
last few months. 

Speech, ''The Draft/' U, S, Seriate, April 27, 1917. 

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Wealth and War 

g EALTH has never yet sacrificed itself 
g on the altar of patriotism in any war. 
J^ On the contrary, it has ever shown it- 
5 self eager to take advantage of the misr 
:. fortunes which war always brings to 

the masses of the people. That has been true of 
every war we have had in this country and of every 
war in Europe of which I have any knowledge, and 
it is. certainly true, of the present war. Every bond 
that is issued must some time be redeemed with in- 
terest out of the taxes that the people must pay. 
Nothing is gained by borrowing except that money 
for immediate use is obtained from those who have 
it to loan, to be repaid to them in the future with 
interest, out of the taxes largely exacted from those 
who can ill afford to pay them. 

Mr. President, to what extent the recent "liberty 
loan" campaign succeeded in selling these bonds to 
the small investor I do not know but we all do 
know that these bonds were a poor investment to 
the man of small means, in comparison with the ad- 
vantages which the owners of large incomes could 
secure from investing millions of their taxable in- 
comes in these nontaxable bonds. It is shown in 
the minority report on this bill that by exempting 

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War Taxes and Profiteering 221 

these bonds from taxation, the Government has 
made them the equivalent of an investment paying 
from S to 9 per cent and more to persons with large 
incomes who will escape the income tax on every 
dollar thus invested; while to the wage-earner and 
the man with a salary so small as not to be reached 
by the income tax, who pinched and saved and 
sacrificed in order to purchase them, they return 
but a meager 3^ per cent. 

But this is not all, Mr. President. Paying for a 
war mainly by selling bonds inevitably forces infla- 
tion. Inflation raises prices, greatly increasing the 
cost of living to the masses. There is no escape 
from this result. As the Senator from Oklahoma 
(Mr. Gore) suggests, with sacrifice to the Govern- 
ment also, reason and experience warn us that the 
policy of financing a war by borrowing the larger 
part of the money required is in itself one of the 
severest financial burdens which war brings to the 
average man. 

The borrowing system gives an impression of 
false prosperity. Where heavy taxation would in- 
duce economy, borrowing induces extravagance. 
The government must bid against the citizen for 
supplier. Prices soar, but wages and income do 
not increase correspondingly. The result is that 
the ordinary citizen whose income only exceeds his 
normal expenses by a small margin finds his ex- 
penses doubled; his income insufiicient to meet his 
needs, even before the Government has laid a single 
dollar of taxation upon his necessaries. 

Mr. President, blind is the man, dull, indeed, the 
brain that does not read from the war histories of 

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222 La PoUcttc's Political Philosophy 

the world the fact that accumulated wealth has 
been behind the wars and has been potential enough 
with all the cabinets and all the war ministers who 
planned the financing to make the prosecution of 
the war a financial harvest. Sir, that is why the 
^W'orld has had so many wars. 

Taxation Need not Cripple 

The rule to determine what is the largest possi- 
ble amount to tax is plain, though its application 
may not always be easy. We should not tax high 
enough to cripple industry or impede production. 
Everyone must accept that. The reason that we should 
stop at thai point is not because of any rights that 
an individual or corporation may have to a cer- 
tain income or return on investment but simply 
because it is wisdom on the part of the government 
to leave enough so that the processes of produc- 
tion may continue uninterrupted in order that new 
taxes for the government may be produced. This- 
is the iron law of necessity in war time. It is the 
law that is applied to me; let it also be applied to 

We. are counseled by the highest economic au- 
thority, we are admonished by all history, we are 
commanded by every consideration of justice to the 
American boys who are marked for slaughter, to 
the American homes already in the shadow of death, 
to declare here and now by our votes on this record 
that the wealth of this country will be taken as 
mercilessly through the power of taxation as men 
are taken by force of the draft. 

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War Taxes and Profiteering 223 

It behooves this congress, Mr. President, to deal 
in these times with even-handed justice by the poor 
and the rich. How the rich shirk and grind not 
only in times of peace but in times of war, while 
they prate of patriotism and national honor and 
democracy! Do not forget that. They are now 
the loudest advocates of democracy between the two 
oceans. They who have been serving special inter- 
ests for from 18 to 20 years, undermining and de- 
stroying the democracy of this country, have be- 
come the apostles of democracy. 

It is pretty rare indeed to find Senators standing 
on this floor uttering one word of criticism of these 
long-existing wrongs. A little outbreak here and 
there on the part of labor seeking to get just a bit 
more for the family will inspire the introduction of 
a bill or an amendment to jail the strikers or to 
authorize resort to armed soldiers to deal with them, 
but down through the centuries the wrongs that 
w^ealth and power have imposed upon the great 
masses of humanity have too often passed unchal- 
lenged in any legislative body. 

Taxes upon the necessaries of life are wrong in 
principle. Many of the articleis taxed in this bill al- 
ready pay a tax in the form of a tariff duty. They 
are largely articles the consumption of which is 
necessary to maintain the health and the well being 
of the mass of people. Why stop with taxing tea, 
coffee, sugar, and medicines of the poor man? Why 
not levy a tax upon every pound of flour and upon 
every peck of potatoes and upon every ounce of 
butter that he buys for his family? The principle 
is the same. I am aware that taxes of this sort have 

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224 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

been resorted to in previous wars. They may have 
been resorted to in all wars, so far as I know. I am 
aware also that it has been the history of all wars 
that the burdens imposed both on life and property 
have been borne by the masses of the people, while 
the few have used them as a means of acquiring 
great fortunes, through which they have dominated 
the life of the country when peace was restored. 

You have but to call the roll of American million- 
aires to remember how many of them laid the foun- 
dation for their fortunes in the Civil War. Jay 
Gould and Black Friday, Morgan and his unsavory 
munition contracts, which were the subject of a 
congressional investigation; Vanderbilt, the ship- 
purchasing agent of the Government, who pur- 
chased and sold to the government condemned and 
worthless vessels, as the result of which he made 
unnumbered millions of dollars — all will be readily 
recalled upon mere mention. Rockefeller, Carnegie, 
and many others laid the foundations of their great 
wealth in the necessities of the Government in the 
civil war. That was not the patriotism we are com- 
mending so highly today, which leads a man to 
shoulder a gun and die in the front rank of battle. 
But they had cunning and sagacity, and the deter- 
mination to grow rich out of the opportunities for 
profit which the war offered, while the great mass 
of the people were givihg their property and their 
lives to defend and perpetuate our Government. 

Remember that the rule to be applied alike to tax- 
ation for war purposes and to the conscription of 
men for the same purpose is simply what is best for 
the state. If a widow has two sons upon whom she 

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War Taxes and Profiteering 225 

is dependent for support and the draft takes one and 
leaves the other, it is not, as we have been repeat- 
edly advised by the rules promulgated by the war de- 
partment, because of any tenderness for the widow 
and mother that one son is left. It is merely be- 
cause to draft both into the army would mean that 
the widow would be left without support and be- 
come a public charge to the injury and detriment of 
the state. The same rule applied to incomes would 
take all the surplus income. Suppose all incomes 
were taken and it became necessary for our citizens 
of great wealth to use a little of their capital to live 
on, it would do no harm to the state. It might even 
result in forcing the members of this class to a 
little wholesome industry whereby the state would 
greatly benefit. 

Speech, "War Profits Tax," Senate, 
September i and 10, 191 7. 

Eighty Per Cent Is Fair 

Tax the War Profits. 

The policy of raising money to pay the expense of 
this war by borrowing and issuing bonds is vicious in 
principle and as rankly unjust to the present generation 
as it is to the next. 

It is impossible to issue bonds without inflating the 
currency, depreciating the value of the dollar, and 
increasing prices. The public suflfers, the government, 
which is a large buyer of war material at these inflated 
prices, also suffers as a purchaser. It then borrows 
more money, issues more bonds, and still further 
inflates the currency and raises prices each time it 
repeats the vicious practice. 

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226 La Pollette's Political Philosophy 

Suppose that 80 per cent of the war profits and 
excess profits had been taken in taxation, the govern- 
ment would have had $3,280,000,000 more in revenue, 
and all of these great war-profiting corporations would 
have been left net profits — ^that is profits after all 
expenses had been paid, equal to 10 per cent of their 
capital and 20 per cent war profits added to that. 
La Follette^s Magazine, September, 1917. 

Taxation of War Profits and Surplus Incomes 

And so it has become the policy in this country, and 
I regret to say that that policy has to some extent been 
practiced in this body, of condemning as disloyal and 
unpatriotic any man who has dared stand for princi- 
ples of sound finance and just taxation as a means 
of meeting the expenses of this war, and who has ven- 
tured to oppose the shifty and evasive methods being 
applied to this greatest of all problems of war finance. 

If they (the railroads) are never allowed to make 
another dollar out of this war, they have already 
made fortunes out of it that should satisfy the wildest 
dreams of avarice and greed. 

The railroads of the country made last year $200,- 
000,000 net above all expenses, more than during any 
preceding year in the history of the country. 

Two-thirds of all the traffic in the United States 
was handled last year by railroads earning more than 
7% per cent on all their capital stock outstanding in 
the hands of the public, and by stock I mean not only 
the stock legitimately issued but the watered stock as 

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War Taxes and Profiteering 227 

Two-thirds of the traffic in the eastern district was 
handled by railroads making an average of over 15 
per cent on their outstanding capital stock. 

Two-thirds of the traffic in the western district was 
handled by railroads that made an average of over 12 
per cent on all their capital stock. 

Tw:o-thirds of the traffic in the southern district is 
handled by railroads that last year made an average 
of more than 13 per cent on all their capital stock. 

Twenty-seven railroad systems handled two-thirds 
of the traffic in the United States. 

They have an accumulated unappropriated' surplus 
of over one thousand million dollars. 

We conscripted men almost as soon as war was 
declared, and in doing so overturned our traditions 
as a nation and, as I believe, violated our constitution. 
We immediately invested the Executive upon his 
demand with the most searching and arbitrary power 
over the lives and property and welfare of the people 
of this country that has ever been exercised by poten- 
tate or ruler in any country since civilized govern- 
ment was established among men. We have done all 
this, sir, whether wisely or unwisely is not now the 
question; but we have done it because of the plea that 
.the necessities of war demanded it. 

It is only when we come to the proposition that 
some of the surplus wealth of the country shall be 
wrested from those who conti^ol it, though they do not 
need it, nor sometimes wisely use it, that a halt is 

Speech, 'War Profits Tax," U. S. 
Senate, September 1 and 10, 1917. 

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228 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Profiteers Should Pay Cost of War 

The ardor and war spirit of wealth and the Wealthy 
will be destroyed if you reduce their profits down to 
a beggarly 33J per cent on their investments. This is 
too "onerous a burden," to quote the language of the 
Senator from North Dakota (Mr. McCumber), for 
their patriotism to bear. 

Mr. President, upon this proposition I fundament- 
ally disagree with senators who have taken that atti- 
'tude. I tell them one and all that by their refusal to 
justly tax war profits and excessive incomes they are 
destroying the war spirit among the hundred million 
people of this country which is absolutely necessary 
if we are to acquit ourselves even creditably in this 
great war. Mr. President, the two or three hundred 
thousand people in this coimtry — for there are no 
more — who are the possessors of large income, and 
the few thousand corporations who are making these 
war profits, are not the people of this country. Why, 
Mr. President, there is a strange misunderstanding 
.on the part of the Senator as to who are the people 
of this country. The Senator says that high taxes 
on large incomes and high taxes on war profits will 
"create dissatisfaction." Where? 

He says "among the people ;" that will "lessen their 
ardor" — ^and I quote his words — "among the people ;" 
that it will "lessen their ardor for the conflict which 
is before them, and thereby cripple and hinder our war 
efforts." Who does the senator think are the people 
of this country ? Is it the 2 per cent, owners of two- 
thirds of thq wealth, or is it the 98 per cent of the pop- 
ulation who have to divide among themselves the mea- 

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War Taxes and Profiteering 229 

ger balance of this country's wealth, which, apportioned 
among them per capita, is a little over $800 apiece? 
Will the latter be dissatisfied because the swollen 
and imnecessary incomes of the former are taxed to 
pay a little of the frightful cost of this war? Does 
the word which you are getting from the coimtry 
indicate that the -people — ^the 98 per cent, the people 
upon whom this Nation must depend in this and 
every other crisis — ^are dissatisfied with the suggestion 
that excessive incomes and war profits should pay a 
high rate of taxation ? No, Mr. President ; the sena- 
tor may think that the people of this country are com- 
posed of the fortunate possessors of large incomes and 
the happy recipients of the bloody profits of this war ; 
he may think that the success of this war depends upon 
the ardor with which these profiteering patriots sup- 
port it. 

I know not what associations or habits of thought 
incline him to that opinion, but I declare, Mr. Presi- 
dent, in that view he is mistaken ; and all persons who 
entertain like views are mistaken. And, Mr. Presi- 
dent, if that view is written by this bill into the law 
of this country, by that very act you are liable to create, 
if it does not already exist in the public mind, the 
belief that the war is a profiteering enterprise. The 
sound of military preparations may continue to fill 
the land, drums may beat, soldiers march, patriotic 
organizations financed by war profits may acclaim 
the glory of a war for democracy, but in every humble 
home in this country where manhood counts more than 
dollars, where patriotism is not associated with profits, 
will have entered the conviction, and rightfully so, 
that a monstrous injustice has been done to the mass of 

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aao La PoDctte's Political PhOoaopliy 

the peofrfe. With the war spirit tainted with mer- 
cenary interests, in those homes you will render the 
prosecotion of tfns war more and more difficult. 

No man can justify the refnsal of the senate to 
impose the highest rate of taxation on war profits and 
incomes which has been demanded here. The sena- 
tors who have attempted to justify that course in this 
body have failed. The country knows that they have 
failed. They have failed for no lack of ability in 
themselves, but for the lack of justice in their cause. 
A pc^ular war could hardly survive the spirit of resent- 
ment the injustice of this bill will arouse ; and if it 
be a fact that this is already an unp(q)ular war, then 
such a course will but intensify that feeling. 

Speech, ''War Profits Tax," U. S. Senate, 
September i and lo, 1917. 

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La FoUette Peace Resolution 

iUGUST II, I introduced in the United 
States senate a concurrent resolution 
declaring that the constitution vests 
in congress the right to determine and 
announce the objects and purposes for 
which this government shall continue to particir 
pate in the European war; and that the United 
States will not contribute to the efforts of any 
European government to annex new territory or 
to enforce indemnities and favoring the creation 
of a common fund to be provided by all belligerents 
out of which to assist in the restoration of portions 
of countries most seriously devastated by war. It 
also provided that congress shall declare for a pub- 
lic restatement of the allies' peace terms disavowing 
any advantages in the way of indemnities, territorial 
acquisitions or commercial privileges by which one 
nation shall strengthen its power abroad at the 
expense of another nation. 

That resolution has been misrepresented both as 
to its terms and purpose. It is here printed in full : 
Whereas the provisional government of Russia 
did, on the 19th day of. May, 1917, declare in favor 
of "peace without annexation or indemnities on the 
basis of the rights of nations to decide their own 
destiny ;" and 

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232 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Whereas the imperial reichstag, representing the 
great majority of the German people did on the 
19th day of July, 1917, by a vote of 214 to 116, pass 
resolutions in favor of peace, "without forced acqui- 
sition of territory and without political, economic, 
and financial violations" and declaring for "a mutual 
understanding atfd lasting reconciliation among the 
nations and the creation of international judicial or- 
ganizations ;" and 

Whereas the German chancellor, speaking for the 
Imperial German government on the 17th day of 
May, 1917, made the following official declaration 
in the reichstag: 

"We did not go to war, and we are not fighting 
now against almost the whole world, in order to 
make conquests, but only to secure our existence, and 
firmly to establish the future of the nation ;" and 

Whereas on behalf of Great Britain on the 23rd 
day of May, 1917, Lord Robert Cecil, as one of the 
ministers of the present government, replying in 
the house of commons, declared that — 

"Our aims and aspirations are dictated solely by 
our determination to secure a peace founded on 
national liberty and international amity, and that 
all imperialistic aims based on force and conquest 
are completely absent from our program;" and 

Whereas duly organized bodies of loyal citizens 
of Great Britain representing millions of other citi- 
zens, many of whom are eminent in official life 
and exert a wide influence upon public opinion, have 
declared that — 

"A stage in the war has been reached when the 
democracies of all the belligerent countries are be- 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 233 

ginning to work toward a peace based on the same 
general principles;" and 

Whereas the above principles are those by which 
the respective warring governments of Europe pro- 
fess common willingness to be bound and are prin- 
ciples to which the United States subscribes ; and 

Whereas one and all of these declarations bespeak 
a willingness to adopt the doctrine of "a peace with- 
out victory," proclaimed by President Wilson on 
the 22d day of January, 1917, as the only possible 
peace that can be enduring; and 

Whereas there have recently emanated from offi- 
cial and unofficial sources, both in this country and 
abroad, statements indicating that we are to con- 
tinue in the war until a peace is obtained which 
gives to the entente allies, or some of them, puni- 
tive damages and territorial advantages as a result 
of the war; and 

Facts of Treaty Withheld 

Whereas the people of this country do not know 
the terms of the secret treaties or agreements exist- 
ing among the entente allies, defining the advan- 
tages, if any, either in the way of indemnities or 
territorial acquisitions or commercial privileges, 
which each is expected to receive as a result of the 
war; and 

Whereas there is naturally a widely expressed 
demand coming from the people of our own coun^ 
try for some declaration of the purpose and object 
for which the United States is expending, in the 
first year of the war, from thirteen to seventeen 
billions of money, and raising by draft and other- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

234 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

wise an army of 2,000,000 men ostensibly for service 
in foreign countries ; and 

Whereas the people have a right to know with 
certainty for what end their blood is shed and their 
treasure expended; and . 

Whereas in this free government congress, in 
whom the war-making power resides under the con- 
stitution, is charged primarily with the responsi- 
bility of deciding upon the objects of, the war at 
its commencement or at any time during its exist- 
ence: Now, therefore, be it 

Resolved, by the senate (the house of representa- 
tives concurring), 

That the constitution vests in the congress as 
the accredited and lawful representatives of the 
people full authority to determine and to declare 
definitely the objects and purposes for which this 
government shall continue to participate in the 
European war. 

Resolved, further. That the congress hereby de- 
clares that this government will not contribute to 
the efforts of any belligerent for the purpose of 
jprolonging the war to annex new territory, either 
in Europe or outside of Europe, nor to enforce the 
payment of indemnities to recover the expenses of 
the war; tut the congress does hereby declare in 
favor of the creation of a common fund to be pro- 
vided by all the belligerent nations to assist in the 
restoration of the portions of territory in any of 
the countries most seriously devastated by the war, 
and for the establishment of an international com- 
mission to decide the allotment of the common fund. 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 235 

Resolved, further, That congress declares that 
there should be a public restatement of the allies' 
peace terms, based on a disavowal of any advan- 
tages, either in the way of indemnities, territorial 
acquisitions, commercial privileges, or economic 
prerogatives, by means of which one nation shall 
strengthen its power abroad at the expense of an- 
other nation, as wholly incompatible with the estab- 
lishment of a durable peace in the world. 

La Follette^s Magazine, August, 19 17. 

Right of Congress to Declare Objects of War 

It is no answer to say that when the war is over 
the citizen may once more resume his rights and 
feel some security in his liberty and his person. As 
I have already tried to point out, now is precisely 
the time when the country needs the counsel of all 
its citizens. In time of war even more than in time 
of peace, whether citizens happen to agree with the 
ruling administration or not, these precious funda- 
mental personal rights — free speech, free press, and 
right of assemblage so explicitly and emphatically 
guaranteed by the Constitution should be main- 
tained inviolable. There is no rebellion in the land, 
no martial law, no courts are closed, no legal proc- 
esses suspended, and there is no threat even of 

But more than this, if every preparation for war 
can be made the excuse for destroying free speech 
and : a free press and the right of the people to 
assemble together for peaceful discussion, then we 
may .well despair of ever again finding ourselves for 
a long period in a state of peace. With the posses- 
sions we already have in remote parts of the world, 

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236 La Follcttc's Political Philosophy 

with the obligations we seem almost certain to 
assume as a result of the present war, a war can 
be made any time overnight and the destruction of 
personal rights now occurring will be pointed to 
then as precedents for a still further invasion of the 
rights of the citizen. This is the road which all 
free governments have heretofore traveled to their 
destruction, and how far we have progressed along 
it is shown when we compare the standard of lib- 
erty of Lincoln, Clay and Webster with the standard 
of the present day. 

This leads me, Mr. President, to the next thought, 
to which I desire to invite the attention of the Sen- 
ate, and that is the power of Congress to declare 
the purpose and objects of the war, and the failure 
of Congress to exercise that power in the present 

For the mere assertion of that right, in the form 
of a fesolution to be considered and discussed, which 
I introduced August ii, 1917, 1 have been denounced 
throughout this broad land as a traitor to my 

Speech, ''Right of Congress to Declare the 
Objects of the War," U. S, Senate, Oct. 6, 1917. 

Reply to Critics of Attitude on War 

I am aware, Mr. President, that in pursuance of 
this general campaign of villification and attempted 
intimidation, requests from various individuals and 
certain organizations have been submitted to the 
senate for my expulsion from this body, and that 
such requests have been referred to and considered 
by one of the committees of the senate. 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 237 

If I alone had been made the victim of these 
attacks, I should riot take one moment of the sen- 
ate's time for their consideration, and I believe 
that other senators who have been unjustly and 
unfairly assailed, as I have been, hold the same 
attitude upon this that I do. Neither the clamor 
of the mob nor the voice of power will ever turn 
me by the breadth of a hair from the course I mark 
out for myself, guided by such knowledge as I can 
obtain and controlled and directed by a solemn 
conviction of right and duty. 

Speech, "Right of Congress. to Declare the 
Objects of War," U. S. Senate, Oct. 6, 1917. 

People Retain Right to Control Government 

But, sir, it is not alone members of congress that 
the war party in this country has sought to intimi- 
date. The mandate seems to have gone forth to 
the sovereign people of this country that they must 
be silent while those things are being done by their 
government which most vitally concern their well- 
being, their happiness, and their lives. To-day and 
for weeks past honest and law-abiding citizens of 
this country are being terrorized and outraged in 
their rights by those sworn to uphold the laws and 
protect the rights of the people. I have in my pos- 
session numerous affidavits establishing the fact 
that people are being unlawfully arrested, thrown 
into jail, held incommunicado for days, only to be 
eventually discharged without ever having been 
taken into court, because they committed no crime. 
Private residences are being invaded, loyal citizens 
of undoubted integrity and probity arrested, cross- 

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338 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

examined, and the most sacred constitutional rights 
guaranteed to every American citizen are being vio- 

It appears to be the purpose of those conducting 
this campaign to throw the country into a state of 
terror, to coerce public opinion, to stifle criticism, 
and suppress discussion of the great issues involved 
in this war. 

I think all men recognize that in time of war 
the citizen must surrender some rights for the com- 
mon good which he is entitled to enjoy in time of 
peace. But, sir, the right to control their own gov- 
ernment according to constitutional forms is not one 
of the rights that the citizens of this country are 
called upon to surrender in time of war. 

Rather in time of war the citizen must be more 
alert to the preservation of his right to control 
his government. He must be most watchful of the 
encroachment of the military upon the civil power. 
He must beware of those precedents in support of 
arbitrary action by administrative officials, which 
excused on the plea of necessity in war time, become 
the fixed rule when the necessity has passed and 
normal conditions have been restored. 

More than all, the citizen and his representative 
in congress in time of war must maintain his right 
of free speech. More than in times of peace it is 
necessary that the channels for free public discus- 
sion of government policies shall be open and Un- 
clogged. I believe, Mr. President, that I am now 
touching upon the most important question in this 
country to-day — and that is the right of the citizens 
of this country and their representatives in congress 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 239 

to discuss in an orderly way frankly and publicly 
and without fear, from the platform and through 
the press, every important phase of this war; its 
causes, the manner in which it should be conducted, 
and the terms upon which peace should be made. 
Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 1917. 

Free Discussion Essential 

I am contending for this right because the exer- 
cise of it is necessary to the welfare, to the exist- 
ence, of this government, to the successful conduct 
of this war, and to a peace which shall be enduring 
and for the best interest of this country. 

Suppose success attends the attempt to stifle all 
discussion of the issues of this war, all discussion 
of the terms upon which it should be concluded, 
all discussion of the objects and purposes to be 
accomplished by it, and concede the demand of the 
war-mad press and war extremists that they monop- 
olize the right of public utterance upon these ques- 
tions unchallenged, what think you would be the 
consequences to this country not only during the 
war but after the war? 

Speech in U. S, SencUe, October 6, 1917. 

How War Might Have Been Avoided 

Mr. President, we are in a war the awful conse- 
quences of which no man can foresee, which, in my 
judgment, could have been avoided if the congress 
had exercised its constitutional power to influence 
and direct the foreign policy of this country. 

On the 8th day of February, 191 5, I introduced 
in the senate a resolution authorizing the president 

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240 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

to invite the representatives of the neutral nations 
of the world to assemble and consider, among other 
things, whether it would not be possible to lay out 
lanes of travel upon the high seas and through 
proper negotiation with the belligerent powers have 
those lanes recognized as neutral territory, through 
which the commerce of neutral nations might pass. 
This, together with other provisions, constituted 
a resolution, as I shall always regard it, of most 
vital and supreme importance in the world crisis, 
and one that should have been considered and acted 
upon by congress. 

I believe, sir, that had some such action been 
taken the history of the world would not be written 
at this hour in the blood of more than one-half of 
the nations of the earth, with the remaining nations 
in danger of becoming involved. 

I believe that had congress exercised the power 
in this respect, which I contend it possesses, we 
could and probably would have avoided the present 

Mr. President, I believe that if we are to extricate 
ourselves from this war and restore this country to 
an honorable and lasting peace, the congress must 
exercise in full the war powers intrusted to it by 
the constitution. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 1917. 

The Citizen's Right to Oppose War Policies 

Lincoln, Webster, Clay, Sumner — what a galaxy 
of names in American history! They all believed 
and asserted and advocated in the midst of war that 
it was the right — ^the constitutional right — ^and the 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 341 

patriotic duty of American citizens, after the decla- 
ration of war and while the war was in progress, 
to discuss the issues of the war and to criticize the 
policies employed in its prosecution and to work 
for the election of representatives opposed to pro- 
longing war. 

The right of Lincoln, Webster, Clay, Sumner to 
oppose the Mexican War, criticize its conduct, advo- 
cate its conclusion on a just basis, is exactly the 
same right and privilege as that possessed by every 
representative in congress and by each and every 
American citizen in our land to-day in respect to 
the war in which we are now engaged. Their argu- 
ments as to the power of congress to shape the 
war policy and their opposition to what they be- 
lieved to be the usurpation of power on the part of 
the executive are potent so long as the constitution 
remains the law of the land. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 191 7. 

Cruelties of the War 

The first chill winds of autumn remind us that 
another winter is at hand. The imagination is par- 
alyzed at the thought of the human misery, the 
indescribable suflfering, which the winter months, 
with their cold and sleet and ice and snow, must 
bring to the war-swept lands, not alone to the sol- 
diers at the front but to the non-combatants at 

To such excesses of cruelty has this war de- 
scended that each nation is now, as a part of its 
strategy, planning to starve the women and children 
of the enemy countries. Each warring nation is 

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242 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

carrying out the unspeakable plan of starving non- 
combatants. Each nurses the hope that it may 
break the spirit of the men of the enemy country 
at the front by starving the wives and babes at 
home, and woe be it that we have become partners 
in this awful business and are even cutting off food 
shipments from neutral countries in order to force 
them to help starve women and children of the 
country against whom we have declared war. 

There may be some necessity overpowering 
enough to justify these things, but the people of 
America should demand to know what results are 
expected to satisfy the sacrifice of all that civiliza- 
tion holds dear upon the bloody altar of a conflict 
which employs such desperate methods of warfare. 

The question is: Are we to sacrifice millions of 
our young men — the very promise of the land — 
and spend billions and tnore billions, and pile up 
the cost of living until we starve— ^and for what? 
Shall the fearfully overburdened people of this 
country continue to bear the brunt of a prolonged 
war for any objects not openly stated and defined? 

The answer, sir, rests, in my judgment, with the 

congress, whose duty it is to declare our specific 

purposes in the present war and to state the objects 

upon the attainment of which we will make peace. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, October 6, 1917. 

People Should Discuss the Objects of War. 

And, sir, this is the ground on which I stand: 
I maintain that Congress has the right and the duty 
to declare the objects of the war and the people 
have the right and the obligation to discuss it. 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 243 

American citizens may hold all shades of opinion 
as to the war; one citizen may glory in it, another 
may deplore it, each has the same right to voice 
his judgment. An American citizen may think and 
say that-we are not justified in prosecuting this war 
for the purpose of dictating the form of government 
which shall be maintained by our enemy or our 
ally, and not be subject to punishment of law. He 
may pray aloud that our boys shall not be sent to 
fight and die on European battlefields for the an- 
nexation of territory or the maintenance of trade 
agreements and be within his legal rights. He may 
express the hope that an early peace may be secured 
on the terms set forth by the New Russia and by 
President Wilson in his speech of January 22, 1917, 
and he cannot lawfully be sent to jail for the expres- 
sion of his convictions. 

It is the citizen's duty to obey the law until it is 
repealed or declared unconstitutional. But he has 
the inalienable right to fight what he deems an 
obnoxious law or a wrong policy in the courts and 
at the ballot box. 

It is the suppressed emotion of the masses that 
breeds revolution. 

If the American people are to carry on this great 
war, if public opinion is to be enlightened and intel- 
ligent, there must be free discussion. 

Congress,, -as well as the people of the United 
States, entered the war in great confusion of mind 
and under feverish excitement. The president's 
leadership was followed in the faith that he had 
some big, unrevealed plan by which a peace that 

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244' La Follette's Political Philosophy 

would exalt him before all the world would soon be 

Gradually, reluctantly, congress and the country 
are beginning to perceive that we are in this terrific 
world conflict, not only to right our wrongs, not 
only to aid the allies, not only to share its awful 
death toll and its fearful tax burden, but, perhaps, 
to bear the briint of the war. 

And so I say, if we are to forestall the danger of 
being drawn into years of war, perhaps finally to 
maintain imperialism and exploitation, the people 
must unite in a campaign along constitutional lines 
for free discussion of the policy of the war and its 
conclusion on a just basis. 

Permit me, sir, this word in conclusion. It is said 
by many persons for whose opinions I have profound 
respect and whose^ motives I know to be sincere 
that "we are in this war and must go through to 
the end." That is true. But it is not true that we 
must go through to the end to accomplish an undis- 
closed purpose, or to reach an unknown goal. 
Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 1917. 

The Surest Way to Win the War 

But it is said that Germany will fight with greater 
determination if her people believe that we are not 
in perfect agreement. Mr. President, that is the 
same worn-out pretext which has been used for 
three years to keep the plain people of Europe 
engaged in killing each other in this war. And, sir, 
as applied to this country, at least, it is a pretext 
with nothing to support it. 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 245 

The way to paralyze the German arm, to weaken 
the German military force, in my opinion, is to 
declare our objects in this war, and show by that 
declaration to the German people that we are not 
seeking to dictate a form of government to Germany 
or to render more secure England's domination of 
the seas. 

A declaration of our purposes in this war, so far 
from strengthening our enemy, I believe would im- 
measurably weaken her, for it would no longer be 
possible to misrepresent our purposes to the German 
people. Such a course on our part, so far from 
endangering the life of a single one of our boys, 
I believe would result in saving the lives of hundreds 
of thousands of them by bringing about an earlier 
and more lasting peace by intelligent negotiation, 
instead of securing a peace by the complete exhaus- 
tion of one or the other of the belligerents. 

Such a course would also immeasurably, I believe, 
strengthen our military force in this country, be- 
cause when the objects of this war are clearly stated 
and the people approve of those objects they will 
give to the war a popular support it will never 
otherwise receive. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 1917. 

Honest Dealing With the Allies 

Then again, honest dealing with the entente 
allies, as well as with our own people, requires a 
clear statement of our objects in this war. If we 
do not expect to support the entente allies in the 
dreams of conquest we know some of them enter- 
tain, then in all fairness to them that fact should be 

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246 La Follette's Political PhUosophy 

stated now. If we do expect to support them in 
their plans for conquest and aggrandizement, then 
our people are entitled to know that vitally impor- 
tant fact before this war proceeds further. Common 
honesty and fair dealing with the people of this 
country and with the nations by whose side we are 
fighting, as well as a sound military policy at home, 
requires the fullest and freest discussion before the 
people of every issue involved in this great war 
and that a plain and specific declaration of our 
purposes in the war be speedily made by the Con- 
gress of the United States. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, October 6, 19 17. 

(Note: The following is a summary of Senator 
La Follette's voting record on war measures. It 
is taken from a speech in the Wisconsin senate 
February 23, 1918, by Hon. Henry A. Huber, state 
senator from Dane county. This speech was pub- 
lished in La Follette's Magazine in February, 1918.) 

From April 7, 1917, when war on Germany was 
declared to January 12, 1918, sixty different war 
measures were passed by Congress. La Follette 
supported and voted for 55 of these. 

He voted for the various bond issues. 

He voted for the various appropriation bills to 
equip the army and provide for the best supplies 
•and the highest pay for our soldiers. He repeatedly 
urged that the boys who go to the trenches must 
have the best of everything in arms, ammunition, 
and equipment. 

He helped to perfect the bill for soldiers' insur^ 
ance and voted for it. ;• . 1 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 247 

He voted for every measure to provide enormous 
appropriations for building ships. 

After war was declared he recognized in every 
act and word the existence of a state of war as a 
fact, and stood for those measures which were cal- 
culated to bring that war to a speedy, successful 
and honorable conclusion. 

He opposed the armed ship bill BEFORE WE 
WENT INTO THE WAR. He did not speak upon 
this measure although he was accused of filibuster- 
ing it to death. 
: He opposed the declaration of war. 

He opposed the draft provisions of the bill to pro- 
Vide an army, but voted to raise that army by the 
volunteer system. 

He opposed the draft provision of the Aviation 
bill because of his general objections to the draft as 
undemocratic and un-American. But he made it 
clear that he endorsed the six hundred million dol- 
lars appropriation for aviation. 

He opposed the espionage bill because it con- 
tained a provision giving the postmaster-general 
power with the stroke of the pen to suppress any 
newspaper and destroy the property of any pub- 

He voted for the food control bill when it passed 
the senate but later voted against the conference 
report on the bill because the conference radically 
changed the bill to thq great injury of the farmer 
and because the inevitable effect of the change 
would be to curtail agricultural production. 

He voted against the war tax bill because it did 
not justly fg.^ yjr^alth and especially war profits and 

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248 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

would therefore force the raising of war revenues 
by excessive bond issues, resulting in all the evils 
of inflation, among others increasing the cost of 
the necessaries of life. 

General Amnesty Is Demanded 

Do the American people know that in this Chris- 
tianized country, under a government dedicated to 
political and religious liberty, there are hundreds 
of men imprisoned because of their opinions? 

Do they know that many of these brave souls 
have been starved and beaten and scourged and 
tortured until some of them have been driven insane 
and others have died for their religious and moral 
convictions ? 

At the beginning of the war the liberals, to whom 
both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Baker owe their political 
power, expected this problem to be met with the 
tact, firmness and honesty which it required. On 
the other hand, certain jingo elements who looked 
upon our armed forces as an instrument for pro- 
tection in their future machinations for extending 
investments and gaining control of world markets, 
at whatever cost to our own or the world's popula- 
tion, saw in this group of dissenters a menace to 
their program. 

It was not a question of whether the conscientious 
objectors were right or wrong. They were there, 
and they presented a problem which called for a 
very defihite disposition. Should they be shot with- 
out trial, as was done in Germany? Should they 
be imprisoned at hard labor for short terms, which 
could be renewed from time to time, as England 

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Freedom of Speech and Press 249 

had done? Or was there, a third and more satis- 
factory solution? Our war department preferred 
not to make the decision. It issued a series of 
vague "orders" to the camps — orders which on the 
surface appeared to be a highly satisfactory solu- 
tion, but which were, in fact, open to any interpre- 
tation which officials in the various camps wished 
to place upon them. These officials, in many in- 
stances, newly endowed with a degree of power 
which their experience in no way warranted, pro- 
ceeded to execute the orders, and court martial 
trials were held for those who violated them. 

The sentences imposed ranged from i, 5, 10, 20, 
45 years and life terms, to the death penalty. One 
man, for instance, was g^ven thirty years because he 
refused a second vaccination ; one a life term because 
his religion forbade him to wear a military uni- 
form; one the death penalty for refusing to peel 
potatoes. All of these extreme sentences were com- 
muted to shorter terms before their absurdity be- 
came too apparent to the public. 

The war is over. Demobilization is almost com- 
plete. England and Canada have released all of 
their conscientious objectors. But our war depart- 
ment is still floundering between the possible oppo- 
sition of two hostile political forces. As a conces- 
sion to the liberal it occasionally releases a group 
of religious objectors, or surreptitiously drops an 
individual objector here and there. For the pacifi- 
cation of the jingoes it continues to hold hundreds 
of others, whom it labels "riotous and unruly" but 
whose real offense is that they have given the public 
facts about the unspeakable conditions of our mili- 

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350 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

tary prisons. It would, no doubt, be embarrassing 
to the war department to make public its records 
and let the people know that .five objectors have 
died from exposure and cruelty, that not a few 
have gone insane, that the health of scores has been 
permanently impaired — that, in fact, everything has 
been done to break them both in body and spirit. 

The charge now lodged against the administration 
is not that it sent these men to prison, — that is 
passed over, — but that it has never met the issue 
with a clear and definite policy; that it constantly 
concealed facts which the public had a right to 
know; that it never let its right hand know what 
its left hand did. 

What will the administration do now? Has it 
the courage to declare an amnesty as England and 
Canada have done? Or will it continue to play its 
double game to the end? 

La Follette's Magazine, September, 1919. 

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The War Makers of Versailles 

• R. PRESIDENT, the little group of 
men who sat in secret conclave for 
months at Versailles were not peace- 
makers. They were war makers. They 
cut and slashed the map of the old 
world in violation of the terms of the armistice. 
They patched up a new map of the old world in 
consummation of the terms of the secret treaties 
the existence of which they had denied because 
they feared to expose the sordid aims and purposes 
for which men were sent to death by the tens of 
thousands daily. They betrayed China. They 
locked the chains on the subject peoples of Ireland, 
Egypt, and India. They partitioned territory and 
traded off peoples in mockery of that sanctified for- 
mula of 14 points, and made it our Nation's shame. 
Then, fearing the wrath of outraged peoples, know- 
ing that their new map would be torn to rags and 
tatters by the conflicting, warring elements which 
they had bound together in wanton disregard of 
racial animosities, they make a league of nations 
to stand guard over the swag! 

The old world armies were exhausted. Their 
treasuries were empty. It was imperative that they 

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253 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

should be able to draw upon the lusty man power 
and the rich material resources of the United States 
to build a military cordon around the new bounda- 
ries of the new States of the old world. 

Senators, if we go into this thing it means a great 
standing army; it means conscription to fight in 
foreign wars, a blighting curse upon the family life 
of every American home every hour. It means 
higher taxes, higher prices, harder times for the 
poor. It means greater discontent, a deeper, more 
menacing unrest. 

Mr. President, whatever course other senators 
may take, I shall never vote to bind my country 
to the monstrous undertaking which this covenant 
would impose. 

Speech, ''Secret Treaties — War Spoils Se- 
cured by Allies/' U. S. Senate, Nov, 13, 1919. 

Labor Betrayed in the Treaty 

Mr. President, in our modem era of a highly 
organized industrial society, the movement for 
democracy in industry is tending to supersede at 
many points the old struggle for political democ- 

Competition between business men and manufac- 
turers, which tended to lower prices and increase 
wages, has wholly disappeared. All the basic indus- 
tries of the Nation and most of the subordinate 
industries have passed into the control of small 
groups of men. Their power is absolute, and they 
increase prices and lower actual wages at will. 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 253 

The great mass of the working people, meanwhile, 
have become wage earners, employed in industry. 
"With these fundamental changes, the battle line in 
*he struggle runs through the industrial life of the 
entire nation. 

By the labor section of this treaty we are giving 
to an international body — b, superlegislature — an 
entering wedge through which it may intervene 
in the settlement of our industrial affairs. 

At the very point where the fight for real democ- 
racy is most heated, where action is fraught with 
jthe most vital consequences to the mass of the 
American people, the treaty sets up an international 
body which has full authority and power to act. 

Mr. President, I cannot consent to that grant of 
authority and power. Believing, as I do, in demo- 
cratic principles; believing that the best results in 
legislation and government are obtained when those 
who legislate are in closest touch with, and elected 
/directly by, the people; believing, in other words, 
in the wisdom of the principles written into the 
American constitution, which must be preserved if 
we are to save our free institutions; believing, 
finally, that. America's best gift to the world and 
most effective aid to the cause of labor throughout 
the world would be the example of the perfection 
of our own democracy, unhampered and unre- 
strained by outside influences; believing, sir, these 
things, I shall move to strike out the labor articles 
pf this treaty. 

Speech, "Labor and the Treaty of Peace," 
U. S, Senate, October 29, 1919. 

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254 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Effect of the Labor Articles 
Mr. President, what is the broad significance of 
these labor provisions? 

The practical effect of setting up international 
machinery of this kind is to crystallize the present 
industrial conditions and to perpetuate the wrong- 
and injustice in the present relation existing between 
labor and capital. 

As a substitute for natural evolution, which over 
a period of centuries has been bringing more and 
more recognition of the rights of labor, this treaty 
of peace sets up an arbitrary, artificial organization, 
clothed with definite powers and restricted by vague 
limitations, which has for its ultimate object the 
maintenance of the present system of a completely 
centralized control of industry. As stated in the 
preamble of the so-called "labor charter," varying 
conditions throughout the world make "strict uni- 
formity in the conditions of labor difficult of imme- 
diate attainment" — but uniformity is the ultimate 

Speech, ''Labor and the Treaty of Peace," 
U, S. Senate, October 29, 1919. 

The Treaty and the Constitution. 

It would be an insult to the memory of the wise 
and patriotic men who framed our constitution to 
suppose that they ever intended that the great 
treaty-making power with which they endowed the 
senate should be so prostituted as to become merely 
a means of registering the President's will. We 
know that nothing of the sort was intended by the 

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The Peace Treaty and the League ass 

framers of the constitution, and the language of 
the constitution permits no such construction. Noth- 
ing of the sort can happen if senators perform their 
sworn duty under the constitution, no matter what 
are the desires and ambitions which move the Pres- 

I am not arguing that a good treaty should be 
rejected or amended merely because a president 
disregarded the constitution in refusing to advise 
with the senate concerning it ; but I do say that any 
treaty which comes into the senate under such a 
cloud should be regarded with suspicion. The pre- 
sumption is against it. 

Speech, ''Executive Usurpation — The Treaty 
and the Constitution/' U, S, Senate, Nov. 6, 1919. 

Great Britain's Territorial Gains from the War. 

Mr. President, to sum up British territorial gains 
from the war: Great Britain has added to her em- 
pire, either by annexation or by protectorates and 
mandates, a territory of 3,972,000 square miles — 
larger than continental Europe — with a population 
of more than 51,725,000 people, 99 per cent of whom 
are natives. 

Great Britain stands to-day the dominant power 
in Asia and Africa, and, in Canada, holds dominion 
over more territory along our northern boundary 
than is represented in the combined area of the 
United States and Alaska. 

The aggregate area of the British Empire is one- 
fourth of the land surface of the globe, totaling 
15,000,000 square miles, and her population of 

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256 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

475,000,000 souls represents one-fourth of the total 
population of the world. 

The government of the British Empire is imposed 
upon 400,000,000 subject peoples, against their will, 
by 65,000,000 people of the English speaking race 
over a territory nine times larger in extent than 
the Roman empire at the height of its glory. It 
is the boundaries of this empire which the United 
States, under the league of nations, will be obligated 
to defend against the external aggression or internal 
disturbance which, in the opinion of the council, 
amounts even to a "threat of war" affecting the 
"peace of nations." 

Speech in U, S, Senate^ November 18, 1919. 

Denial of Justice to Egypt 

Mr. President, I shall not review here the sordid 
story of Egypt's betrayal at the peace conference. 

How four men chosen by the Egyptian people to 
represent them at Paris were seized by the British 
authorities without warning, deported to Malta, and 
held in a military prison; how more than 1,000 un- 
armed natives Were brutally shot down and killed 
by British machine guns on the streets of Alexan- 
dria and Cairo; how President Wilson refused to 
give the Egyptian envoys a hearing after they finally 
reached Paris, are facts too well known to all of us 
to require recital. 

It is enough to say that the treaty of Versailles 
recognizes a permanent British protectorate over 
this unfortunate country. It makes -Egypt, with 
her 13,000,000 inhabitants, all of one race, speaking 
the same language, and occupying 350,000 square 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 357 

miles of fertile territory, as much a part of the 
British Empire as India or her colonies in Africa. 
It gives to Great Britain, in addition, the immense 
area known as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, which is 
one-third as large as the United States. She ac- 
quired this domain, Mr. President, against the will 
of every one of its inhabitants, in violation of British 
pledges to Egypt and to the world, and in wanton 
disregard of the 14 points sponsored by the United 
States and specifically accepted and agreed to by 
Great Britain. 

Speech, ''Secret Treaties, and War Spoils 
Secured by Great Britain/' U, S. 

Senate, November ii8, 1919. 

The War in Retrospect 

President Wilson has again spoken on the League 
of Nations. He begins where he left off. He has 
forgotten nothing, neither has he learned anything. 
He repeats his cant phrases on the league compact 
and world peace. 

He seems not to know that the American people 
have already passed judgment. God pity him when 
that time comes. He will find that judgment as 
harsh as truth, as unrelenting as justice. 

From the first sentence to the last the league of 
nations is a sham and a fraud. 

It pretends to be a league to preserve the peace 
of th6 world. 

It is an alliance among the victorious nations of 
Europe to preserve for themselves the plunder and 
the power they gained by the war. 


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258 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

It bars the door of hope in the face of every peo- 
ple, embraced within its terms, now striving for 

It betrays China and rivets the chains of bondage 
upon Egypt, India and Ireland. 

It is an inseparable part of a treaty, conceived in 
fraud, in violation of the armistice, and written in a 
frenzy of hate to enslave the German people. 

Woodrow Wilson and his three associates at Ver- 
sailles were not peace makers. They were war 

If we should ever adopt the league of nations or 
ratify the treaty, we would stand convicted before 
the world as a nation without honor. 

The American people are beginning to see the war 
in retrospect with clearer vision. 

The dazzling rhetoric is now but shabby tinsel, 
much of the eloquence seems hollow and insincere, 
and the loudest appeals to patriotism smack of 

The great body of the American people were 
opposed to our entering into the European war. 

The declaration that we were fighting for democ- 
racy was the baldest, most wicked lie ever imposed 
upon a people. 

This country never before engaged in a war in 
which public opinion was so falsified and the con- 
victions of a nation so stifled, and never before 
were the rights of the individual citizen so ruthlessly 
and brutally tramped under foot as during and after 
the war. 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 259 

We sacrificed a quarter of a million precious 
American lives, incurred a war debt of ever growing 
billions, disorganized industry, engendered class 
hatreds in our social order, created a new crop of 
millionaires to further menace American democracy, 
— overturned a German autocracy and built up a 
British autocracy infinitely stronger to rule the 

And what of the rights of men ? You cannot name 
a single right that the common man has gained as 
a result of the late war, — either in our own country 
or in any one of the allied countries. 

The common people of all the countries engaged 
in the war suffered and starved and died by the mil- 
lions and what have they to show for it? 

They must labor for generations to restore the 
ravages of the war. They and their ^children must 
bear for unnumbered years to come the fearful bur- 
den of the war debt, paying it over and over many 
times in vast interest charges and in the higher and 
higher living cost which the war debt with its depre- 
ciated dollar entails. 

War Destroys Human Rights 

The people of no country engaged in the war 
desired it, and the people of every country involved 
would have ended it quickly on just and honorable 
terms to all if left to their decision. 

This was a war of big business for bigger busi- 
ness. It was a war for trade routes, and commercial 
advantages. It was a war for new territory and the 
right to exploit weaker peoples. It was a mean, 
sordid, mercenary war. 

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26o La Follette's Political Philosophy 

This was not so clear to some of us when the 
smoke of battle obscured our view. But it is writ- 
ten large in the terms of the treaty and the proposed 
alliance among the victorious governments. 

It is the great commercial and exploiting interests 
in whose behalf this war was fought that are to 
be protected by the League of Nations and the 
Treaty, upon the ratification of which Woodrow 
Wilson still doggedly insists. 

I challenge any man to name one new privilege, 
one added right which the common people of this 
or any one of the allied countries are to gain as 
the result of the war. 

But pity the man so blind as not to see that the 
rights most cherished among free men in all ages 
and in all countries, were wickedly destroyed as a 
part of the war and the afterwar program. 

Freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and of 
the press, no arrests without warrant and without 
probable cause, no secret search and unlawful sei- 
zure of property, no trial except before impartial 
judges and juries, no forced military service especi- 
ally in foreign lands— these are some of the rights 
which everyone knows have been wrested from the 
people of this country as a result of this war. 

La Follette's Magazine,. May, 1920. 

League of Nations To Preserve Status Quo 

Mr. President, there is one agency to which Great 
Britain may look for aid in holding her rebellious 
subjects in check, and that agency is the league 
of nations. 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 261 

I care not what reservations or amendments we 
attach to this covenant. In the final analysis it is 
an instrument for the preservation of the status quo. 
Like the Holy Alliance of 1815, it is couched in the 
language of idealism and peace. But, like the Holy 
Alliance, it will be used for the suppression of 
nationalities and for the prosecution of oppressive 

This covenant closes the door in the face of every 
people striving for freedom. Not one of the races 
now held in bondage had a voice in the making of 
this instrument. Not one was granted an oppor- 
tunity to be heard at Paris. This covenant was so 
cunningly conceived that the first act of revolution 
in India, Korea, Egypt, or Ireland will be inter- 
preted as a "threat of war" and a disturbance of the 
"peace of nations." Patriots of India, Egypt, Ireland, 
seeking external aid for their countries as Franklin 
sought aid in France for the struggling American 
colonies, and as Kossuth, Kosciuszko, DeValera, 
and many others have sought aid in the United 
States for the cause of human freedom, by the 
terms of this treaty become international outla^ys. 
No ingenuity of interpretation of the articles of 
this document can remove from my mind the con- 
viction that it destroys everywhere the right of 

The White Man's Injustice to Asia 
If we are to disregard every principle of our free 
institutions and every tradition of the past, there 
are yet other reasons why we should withhold our 
support from this new alliance. 

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a6a La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

We should not deceive ourselves into believing- 
that there can be a permanent enforcement of the 
present system of exploitation in Asia. The civili- 
zation of these Asiatic countries is more venerable 
than our own. Asia's contribution to the world has 
been the principle of human brotherhood. Asia has 
produced the great moral teachers of history — Con- 
fucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Christ. 

To these great teachers may be traced the non- 
resistance and pacifism of the Asiatic peoples. 

The races of Asia have now suffered for three 
centuries under European exploitation. Off the east 
coast of China they see the smallest of the Asiatic 
nations — ^Japan — holding a place of power in the 
councils of the world. They know that Japan owes 
her present ascendancy to the military and naval 
strength which she built up in a decade. With 
this example before them, is it likely that the mil- 
lions of Asia will continue long under foreign rule? 
China has already awakened under the stimulus of 
a revolution and the theft of Shantung. India is 
approaching revolt. Should the league of nations 
attempt to maintain indefinitely the status quo in 
Asia, the world will witness a more terrible war 
than the one from which we have emerged. It will 
be a continental war — a race war, in which the white 
races will be hopelessly outnumbered. 

If we ratify the treaty with Germany we are 
leading this country farther into the shadow of that 

Mr. President, I do not speak of Great Britain's 
mighty empire in a spirit of covetousness. 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 263 

The British Empire and the League 

I do not covet for this country a position in the 
world which history has shown would make us the 
object of endless jealousies and hatreds, involve us 
in perpetual war, and lead to the extinction of our 
domestic liberty. I, for one, harbor no ambition to 
see this country start upon the path which has lured 
other nations to their ruin. 

Mr. President, we cannot, without sacrificing this 
Republic, maintain world dominion for ourselves. 
And, sir, we should not pledge ourselves to main- 
tain it for another. 

Where are Great Britain's boundaries likely to be 
assailed ? Certainly not in Australia, Canada, South 
Africa, or New Zealand. These self-governing do- 
minions — colonized and peopled by Englishmen — 
have given ample proof of their loyalty to the 
motherland, and their Anglo-Saxon populations 
need no league of nations to guarantee the integrity 
of their territories. 

It is the vast native populations, held in bondage 
for the enrichment of a small class of imperialist 
aliens — ^the millions of India, Egypt, and the Otto* 
man Empire — who are apt in the future to disturb 
the status quo created by this peace. 

It is these peoples that the league of nations must 
hold in check. It is to maintain this part of her 
empire that Great Britain must keep her mighty 
navy and burden the English people with taxes. 

It is my conviction that the English people resid- 
ing in the dominions and the British Isles would 

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264 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

benefit most if this illicit portion of the Empire 
should crumble and fall away. 

If the British empire were limited to the domin- 
ions, with its government founded upon the consent 
of the governed, and hence requiring no guaranties 
from other nations, the peace of the world would 
rest upon a sounder basis. 

Lincoln on the Subjugation of Weaker Peoples 

Mr. President, I know the argument will be ad- 
vanced here that the 400,000,000 unwilling subjects 
of the British empire enjoy better government than 
they would enjoy if left to govern themselves. 

Senators, that is an argument which, even if it 
were based on truth, should have no place in the Amer- 
ican congress. We owe our national existence to. 
the courage of a handful of men who proclaimed to 
the world the self-evident truth that — 

All men are created equal ; that they are endowed 
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; 
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness; that to secure these rights govern- 
ments are instituted among men, deriving their 
just powers from the consent of the governed. 

A controversy arose in this country 60 years ago 
as to the application of those great principles. In 
that contest, Abraham Lincoln contended that the 
Declaration of Independence applied not alone to 
white men, or to the descendants of the English 
settlers in the Colonies, but to all men, white and 
black, yellow and brown, and he declared that Dec- 
laration the "sheet anchor of American republi- 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 265 

When the arguments were advanced in this coun- 
try for the enslavement of the Negro which are now 
advanced for denying the natives of India and of 
Egypt self-government, Lincoln replied (Chicago, 
111., July 10, 1858) : 

"Those arguments that are made, that the inferior 
race are to be treated with as much allowance as 
they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to 
be done for them as their condition will allow^-what 
are these arguments? They are these arguments 
that kings have made for enslaving the people in 
all ages of the world. You will find that all the 
arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; 
they always bestrode the necks of the people, not 
that they wanted to do it, but because the people 
were better off for being ridden. That is their argu- 
ment, and this argument of the judge (Douglas) 
is the same old argument that says, you work, and 
I eat; you toil, and I will enjoy the fruits of it. 
Turn it whatever way you will, whether it come 
from the mouth of a king as an excuse for enslav- 
ing the people of his country, or from the mouth 
of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the 
men of another race, it is all the same old serpent." 

Mr. President, when Abraham Lincoln contended 
for the right of self-government as the heritage of 
"all men in all lands, everywhere," who can say 
that he would have excluded the people of Egypt, 
of India and of Ireland? 

These people do not ask that we send armies to 
Europe or Asia to aid them in gaining their free- 
dom. They ask simply that we shall do nothing 

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266 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

to hinder them in their struggle for independence 
from the power which once held sway over the 
American colonies. 

The hope expressed here, that by entering the 
league of nations we can best serve these subject 
races, is, in my opinion, a forlorn hope. 

If we were powerless to serve oppressed peoples 
at Paris, by what logic can it be argued that we 
shall be better able to serve them at Geneva? 

At Paris our enemies, our allies, and the neutral 
nations of the world had accepted the 14 points 
which we were pledged to w^rite into the peace. 

How the representatives of the United States 
compromised those principles, how they set aside 
the doctrine of self-determination, how they aban- 
doned "open covenants openly arrived at" for the 
secret treaties of the Allies are now matters of his- 
tory. Can it be hoped that at Geneva, with the 
confidence of the world blasted in the stability of 
our purposes and ourselves bound to a covenant 
which pledges our support for the status quo, we 
shall be a powerful advocate for Korea, India, Egypt 
and Ireland? 

The Terms of the Peace Treaty 

Mr. President, when the American people were 
committed to this war the great mass of them were 
led to believe that they were suffering and fighting 
for the destruction of arbitrary power exercised by 
strong nations over weaker people — fighting to 
carry democracy to all parts of the world. 

The war ended. We sacrificed a quarter of a 
million precious American lives, incurred a war 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 267 

debt of thirty billions, disorganized industry, engen- 
dered class hatred in our social order, created a new 
crop of profiteering millionaires, overturned a Ger- 
man autocracy and built up a British autocracy 
infinitely stronger to rule the world, and we are 
now engaged in creating a league of nations to 
perpetuate its power and bind this Government 
to respect and preserve its extended boundaries. 

Look at the map of the world as Great Britain's 
boundaries were fixed before the war ! British pos- 
sessions — ^widely scattered, outlying, detached, iso- 
lated — ^waiting to be united, bound together, and 
made secure! 

Look at the map to-day, with British boundaries 
reaching out over the earth to embrace her spoils 
of war. 

The map of the world has become the map of 
Great firitain. It is not the work of chance. On 
its face it is the written confession of the guilt of 
British imperialists for their full share in the years 
of diplomatic intrigue which embroiled the world 
in war., 

How puny appear the ambitions of Germany com- 
pared to the imperial power now actually attained 
by Great Britain! 

In spite of the protestation of Lloyd George that 
England did not seek "one yard of territory," Great 
Britain has made capital of the sacrifices of the 
United States, of France and of the English people, 
to bring a vast new territory under her flag, and 
British bankers and traders are preparing for a 
new era of exploitation. 

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268 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

I do not believe that the British empire, in which 
the missing links were neatly fitted at the Paris 
conference, is an accident of events. 

It is plainly the consummation of the long-con- 
sidered and well-plaqned program of the imperial- 
ists who dominate the British Foreign Office, at 
the expense of the English people. To this source, 
in my opinion, may be traced many of the minor 
irritants which led up to the war. 

It was this force which built up in the United 
States by subtle propaganda hatred of Germany. It 
is this power which now seeks American support 
for a treaty visiting upon the German republic a 
peace more crushing, more harsh and pitiless in its 
terms, than any peace threatened to be imposed 
upon the German empire under the rule of the 
kaiser and the junker. 

That this venomous and unreasoning hatred of 
Germany still persists in some parts of our coun- 
try will not restrain me from raising my voice in 
protest against the crushing of the German repub- 
lic and the German people, who according to the 
president's own statement, were not responsible for 
the war. 

If we ratify the treaty of Versailles, after pledg- 
ing ourselves to a peace based upon the 14 points — 
which had been approved by the allies and accepted 
in good faith by the central powers — we shall stand 
convicted before the world as a nation without 
honor, and unworthy to be trusted to fulfill the 
pledges it has made. 

Speech in U. S, Senate, Nov, 18, 19 19. 

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The Peace Treaty and the League 269 

Trying To Make It a Real League of Peace 

(Note: On Nov. 10, 1919, Senator La Follette 
presented to the senate six reservations for adop- 
tion as part of the covenant of the league of nations. 
These reservations, all of which were voted down 
on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 18, provided : 

1. A guaranty to all nations of the right of self- 

2. Abolition of conscription. 

3. A popular referendum. 

4. Limitation of armaments. 

5. Prevention of forcible annexations. 

6. Prohibition against the use of mandates for 
the exploitation of the inhabitants and resources of 
weaker states.) 

Independence of Nations 

It is a mistaken policy that assumes a community 
of nations can prosper any more than a community 
of individuals by one or more tyrannizing over the 
others and monopolizing the world's markets. The 
world's greatest progress must be best served by 
the largest possible development of the national 
life of each country. We believe there is still 
room for all in the vast and undeveloped areas of 
the earth. 

Speech in U. S. Senate, Feb. 12, 191 5. 

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An Illegal War in Siberia 

^RESIDENT Wilson is conducting a 
war against Russia in open and noto- 
rious violation of the constitution. 
^ Article I, Section 8 of the constitu- 
tion provides as follows: 

"The Congress shall have power, — 

"To declare war, grant letters of marque and 
reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on 
land and water." 

The framers of the constitution were unanimously 
opposed to vesting the president with power to 
make war upon any country or any people. 

Congress has never declared war against Russia. 

Congress has never raised an army or voted a 
dollar of money or made rules for the regulation of 
the land and naval forces in a war against the Rus- 
sian people. 

But the president is using an army raised for a 
wholly different purpose, and expending money ap- 
propriated by congress to a wholly different use, to 
prosecute a war against a people and a country, 
with whom under the constitution of the United 
States, we are at peace. 

And called upon by senators and representatives, 
again and again, from the floors of congress, to ex- 

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International Relations 271 

plain why the lives of American soldier boys are 
being sacrificed in conducting an unconstitutional 
war on Russia, the president refuses and neglects 
to make an answer. 

La Follette^s Magazine, April, 1919. 

Recognition of Russia 

Why did the Wilson government refuse to rec- 
ognize the soviet government of Russia? 

Was it because the soviet government, in order 
to maintain itself, executed a total of 3,200 people 
in Petrograd, Moscow and all other cities, most of 
whom had organized counter revolutions and were 
plotting the overthrow of* the soviet government, 
and some of whom were spurious supporters of the 
soviet government who had been convicted of graft- 
ing and robbing that government? 

If recognition of the soviet government was re- 
fused because of the execution of a total of 3,200 
people in Petrograd, Moscow and all other cities, 
then why did Wilson's government recognize the 
Mannerheim white guard government in Finland, 
which had executed and murdered by starvation in 
its prisons more than 30,000 Finnish red prisoners ? 

In other words, if 3,200 soviet "atrocities" were 
sufficient to bar the Lenine government in Russia 
from recognition by the Wilson government, then 
why should not 30,000 white guard atrocities in 
Finland have constituted ten times as strong a bar 
against the recognition of the Mannerheim govern- 
ment in Finland by the Wilson government in 
Washington ? 

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272 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Or is it possible that the real reason for refusing 
recognition to the soviet government of Russia, 
and even denying to our merchants and manufac- 
turers the right to buy and sell and trade with that 
government, is because it is a socialist government 
based upon the common ownership of all property? 

And, did the Wilson government recognize the 
Kolchak "government" because Admiral Kolchak 
is a survivor of the despotic system of the czar, 
and will restore the "rights" of property, return the 
land to the select, aristocratic seven per cent, give 
the peasants black bread and the knout, and forever 
dispel the hope of an industrial democracy? 

La FoUette's Magazine, July, 1919. 

The Rights of Neutrals 

An Associated Press despatch cabled from Paris 
states that : "Norway has refused to join in a block- 
ade of Germany, in case the German delegates refuse 
to sign the Peace Treaty." 

Sweden, Holland and Switzerland have made like 

Thus do these Christian nations rebuke the three 
men who control at Versailles, for applying the 
same savage policy of starvation of a people to force 
acceptance of "peace," which they employed in 
prosecuting the war. 

The whole world will always owe a debt of grati- 
tude to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and 
Switzerland. With the menace of starvation hang- 
ing over them they preserved as best they could 
the integrity of their neutrality with Germany and 

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international Relations 273 

refused to make an inhuman hunger-war upon inno- 
cent women and children. 

For this brave, righteous stand in defense of the 
"right of self-determination," these independent 
little nations were terribly punished. Suffering hor- 
ribly for food, compelled to eat in some sections 
bread made from the bark of trees, their death-rate 
rapidly increasing because short-rationed by Wil- 
son's embargo, they heroically resisted to the bitter 
end the atrocious order — actual or implied — ^to 
"Fight or Starve." 

And now Norway, Sweden, Holland, and Switzer- 
land again refuse to be made a party to forcing the 
acceptance of a treaty on Germany through a policy 
of coercion by starvation. 

Such a policy is a reproach to civilization. 

These jugglers with the world's destiny at Ver- 
sailles have for six months locked themselves away 
from the peoples they are supposed to represent. 

Judged by the fragmentary data given out, they 
now seek to commit the world to peace terms which 
make a ghastly mockery of the Fourteen Points, 
and all of the other elocutionary frummery which 
preceded and followed their announcement by Mr. 

Aside from all question as to its terms — in so 
iar as we are permitted to know anything about 
them — the method of compelling acceptance by the 
Germans and Austrians, cries to heaven for a protest 
from the Christianized world. 

Lq Fp^ffff^s Magazine, June, 1919. 

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274 La Pollette's Political Philosophy 

''Martyred Ireland" 

The domination of Ireland by England has been 
no less a tragedy than the domination of Poland 
by Russia, Germany and Austria. Racially and geo- 
graphically, Ireland is as far separated from England 
as Poland is from Germany. Politically Ireland has 
been*at war with England for 700 years. All the 
world knows the wonderful fertility of the Irish 
soil and that except for the cruel oppression of 
England, Ireland would today have many times 
its present population. 

If President Wilson was seeking democracy for 
the world, he would have joined the cause of Ireland 
with that of Poland and the other small nations. 
Had the Emerald Isle been an enemy instead of 
ari allied possession, the American representatives 
of the Irish cause would have been given a different 
kind of reception and the Irish republic might have 
been accorded recognition. 

If the President had tried to secure self-determi- 
nation for Ireland and had failed, he might have 
become the idol of Irish patriots. But he did not 
try. Under the cloak of professed friendship he left 
the Irish people to the mercy of their masters. The 
commercial interests of the British Empire over- 
topped the human rights of martyred Ireland. 
La Follette's Magazine, June, 1919. 

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Important Place of Militia 

I UR forefathers wrote it in the consti- 
tution that states should have the right 
to maintain their militia. In every 
emergency of war this country has had 
to meet, the wisdom of its maintenance 
has been strongly demonstrated. As Shakespeare 
says of meeting death, so we may say of meeting 
war, "The readiness is all." 

In times of profoundest peace, these military or- 
ganizations serve a high and noble purpose. It is 
not alone that they uphold the laW and create 
respect for it, but they preserve and inculcate the 
spirit of patriotism, of loyalty to state and country. 
They make social centers, where young men come 
together for self-government, where order, disci- 
pline and obedience are learned ; where the spirit of 
disinterested comradeship is fostered ; where united 
civic and military support of right and justice is 

The national guard of the state represents the 
health and vigor of its young manhood. Many of 
its members are sons and grandsons of the veterans 
of the civil war, who have learned from the spoken 
word — ^better than history can teach, what that war 
cost and what it was fought for. Back of that 

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276 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

war was the one for independence, to establish this 
government of equal rights, equal opportunities, 
equal responsibilities and equal burdens — a govern- 
ment resting on the will of the people. Of this 
generation, it will never be forgotten that the flag 
of freedom was carried to a helpless people, an 
oppressed and suffering nation, under a despotism 
more cruel than human slavery. These gatherings 
and all the work of the guardsmen impress these 
lessons upon us over and over again and raise in 
each the highest standards of civic and military- 

In these times of selfish commercialism an3 busi- 
ness absorption, whatever tends to loftier senti- 
ment, purer patriotism, higher ideals of citizenship, 
should be fostered because it makes for the security 
of our most precious heritage. 

Address to National Guard Officers, 
January 31, 1902. 

Back Up Our Boys 

There is, and of course can be, no real difference 
of opinion concerning the duty of the citizen to dis- 
charge to the last limit whatever obligation the 
war lays upon him. 

Our young men are being taken by the hundreds 
of thousands for the purpose of waging this war 
on the continent of Europe, possibly Asia or Africa, 
or anywhere else that they may be ordered. Noth- 
ing must be left undone for their protection. They 
must have the best army, ammunition, and equip- 
ttient that money can buy. They must have the 

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The American Soldier 277 

best training and the best officers which this great 
country cari produce. The dependents and relatives 
they leave at home must be provided for, not mea- 
gerly, but generously so far as money can provide 
for them. 

I have done sojme of the hardest work in my life 
during the last few weeks on the revenue bill to 
raise the largest possible amount of money from 
surplus incomes and war profits for this war and 
upon other measures to provide for the protection 
of the soldiers and their families. That I was not 
able to accompliish more along this line is a* great 
disappointment to me. I did all that I could, and I 
shall continue to fight with all the power at my 
command until wealth is made to bear more of the 
burden of this war than has been laid upon it by 
the present congress. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, Oct, 6, 1917. 

Give Comfort to the Boys 

The press dispatches inform us that our troops 
in France are occupying first line trenches in the 
fighting line. This means for them the supreme 
sscrifice for country. Their suffering will be un- 
measured and unmeasurable. This country has ap- 
propriated immense sums for the war, but there are 
things money will not buy. The things that com- 
fort the spirit of man come not only from the 
knowledge of great deeds well done but also from 
the feeling that our fellowmen are not unappre- 
ciative of such service. Even though the govern- 
ment is generous or even lavish in its official care 
of these men there will still be the need, the ever 

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278 La.FoUette's Political Philosophy 

pressing need, of that spiritual comfort that comes 
from the gentle hand of woman; the home things 
that revive and sustain in the dark days of depres- 
sion and pain; the little things that carry the 
thoughts of love and affection. These will be fur- 
nished, if at all, by those ministering angels of 
mercy, the Red Cross, the WomaCn's Relief Corps, 
the Y. M. C. A., and K. C, and kindred organiza- 
tions. The fraternal orders can also be of great 
service to their members in the army. 

There should be a generous outpouring from home 
people to sustain these organizations in the field. 
Everyone should mgike personal sacrifice to the 
end that our brave boys be remembered, not only 
for the day, but continuously and every day till their 

War of today, as never before, brings suffering 
and horrors that we at home can never fully ap- 
preciate but which we can at least in some degree 

La Follette's Magazine, November, 1917. 

On the American Fighting Man 

. American soldiers are now in France in large 
numbers. Over 800,000 men have already gone 
across. More are going every day. 

American ship production is going on apace. A 
beginning has been made in production of aircraft. 
Machine guns will soon be manufactured in quan- 

The U-boats are still taking large toll, but rela- 
tively to shipments, destruction from submarines 
is growing less. 

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The American Soldier . 279 

The struggle on the western front has been most 
desperate and critical since March 21. Undoubtedly 
the situation will continue to be critical for some 
time. But the force of this mighty nation is being 
felt more and more as the days go by. Eventually 
we must exercise a dominating influence in ending 
the war. 

There have been serious and dangerous delays in 
equipping our -armies. Happily the outlpok is 
better for the future. 

Our men at the front are giving a good account of 
themselves. They are preserving the best tradi- 
tions of the American soldier. They are under no 
illusions. They know that war is hell. But they 
w411 meet the enemy on his own ground and un- 
complainingly and cheerfully make every sacrifice 
demanded to win the fight. 

We at home must make our sacrifices in the same 
spirit. Everyone must do his part. When each one 
of us has done his best he may with justice com- 
plain of him who has not done his share. The sac- 
rifices of war are many. Least of these are the 
financial burdens. 

La Follette's Magazine, June, 1918. 

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The Farm Life of the Future 

I T requires no gift of prophecy to fore- 
see the changes which another gener- 
^ ation will unfold. 

The development of this new coun- 
try, with its privations and hardships, 
made life upon the farm one of long hours, of exact- 
ing toil, anxious watching for results, and, often, 
the closest kind of living. There was little leisure, 
little opportunity for reading and study, almost no 
time for recreation or holiday. Yet, so wholesome 
v/as the life, so normal the education of hand and 
brain, so exacting the demands upon self-reliance 
and individual courage, so firm and secure the moral 
foundations made by habits of industry and thrift, 
that the farm has furnished not only the state and 
nation, but the professional and business worM, 
with its leaders of men and captains of industry. 

Only a few years ago one of the most vexing prob- 
lems was how to keep the boys and girls upon the 
farm. But important and sweeping changes are 
taking place in the professional, the commercial, 
and industrial world. Consolidation and combina- 
tion are rapidly narrowing the field of individual 
opportunity and effort, in the pursuits which a 
quarter of a century ago tempted ambition and re- 
warded talent and industry. Except for the few 

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Agriculture and Co-operation 281 

masters of finance, he who is now counted fortu- 
nate enough to find a place in the complex system 
of modern business life, must encounter an abnor- 
mal strain and tension, and from the very condi- 
tions of success, forego all opportunity for individ- 
ual development and personal achievement. 

With the increasing competition in the profes- 
sions and the lessening opportunity for large profits 
and great fortunes for the average individual in 
business, contrasted with the advancement in agri- 
culture and increasing advantages of country life, 
the conditions may soon be reversed and our prob- 
lems be how to keep our sons and daughters away 
from the farm and with us in business and profes- 
sional life. 

Be that as it may, it is plain that agriculture in 
this country has a future heretofore unknown in 
the world. Farming is now the most distinctive 
American occupation. It is the source of our safest, 
most conservative citizenship and highest average 
of intelligence. 

Put the farm in direct communication with the 
world by the rural delivery, the telephone, the elec- 
tric railway, the traveling library, the township 
school, the improved highway, and you have given 
it the essential advantages of the city without de- 
priving it of the essential advantages of the coun- 

There will be left the sweet and vitalizing coun- 
try air, the isolation of broad acres, the beauty of 
hill and valley, woodland and meadow, and living, 
running water. The charm of the ripening grain, 

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282 La FoUette's Political Phitesophy 

coming to its mysterious fullness in the warm em- 
brace of the sunshine, the honest pride in the graz- 
ing flocks, and the affectionate interest in their 
growing young, will always be an inherent and up- 
lifting element of life upon the farm. The rich 
blessing of unconscious health, the joy of wholesome 
work, that brings wholesome rest and wholesome 
appetite, are the natural rewards of this outdoor oc- 
cupation. Nearness to nature, nearness to God, a 
truer philosophy, a keener human sympathy, higher 
ideals, greater individuality, will ever be stamped 
upon the life and character of the country home. 

The new agriculture, the new education, new in- 
ventions will give, added interest, larger profits, 
greater certainty of success. They will lighten its 
burdens, widen its sphere, and ultimately make agri- 
culture the most desirable of all human avocations. 
A new day has already broken upon the tiller of 
the soil. The new life upon the farm will recognize 
not only the material value and dignity of labor, 
but the increasing necessity for greater leisure and 
a larger measure of recreation. It will not be only 
a life of industrious independence, high intelligence, 
and great culture, but it will have time for th^ aes- 
thetic and artistic side of human affairs. Under 
these influences every farm will become a beautiful 
country home, provided with every comfort, every 
convenience, every rational luxury, — in close touch 
v/ith the world, yet happily apart from it. 

Wisconsin has been a pioneer in this advancement 
of American agriculture. Many of the distinguished 
leaders are here tonight. May their valued lives be 

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Agriculture and Co-operation 283 

^ared yet many years tc5 us to see the full measure 
ot* their great service to this noble industry and the 
fruition of our highest hopes for its future. 

■Address, Farmery' Institute, Oconomowoc, 
Wisconsin, March 19, 1902. 

The Farmer the Nation's Hope 

Nearly one-half of all the people of this country 
are engaged in and directly dependent upon agri- 
culture. The vital forces of every other business, 
I care not what its character, are drawn from and 
nourished by it. From the standpoint of economics 
purely and upon the strictest business principles 
the interests of agriculture are the interests of this 
Government. No other pursuit so universally and 
profoundly concerns every other citizen of the Re- 
public — no other calling known to civilized man, 
where so entirely and completely the interests of 
one is the interest of all. 

There are other considerations which are worthy 
the thought of those charged in part with the duties 
of government. Favored by the character of our 
institutions, almost all of the farm land in this 
<:ountry is held and owned by men who cultivate it. 
Ownership of soil means ownership of home, and 
I tell ypu that government whose people build and 
own their own homes lays broadest and deepest its 
foundations and bargains most surely and happily 
with time. Such homes, no matter how humble, are 
pledges of the perpetuity of the nation. Our little 
modest homes scattered over this land, reared by 
those who live in them, are the pillars of strength 

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284 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

which lift this government above other nations of 
the civilized world. And it is well for us to re- 
member here as elsewhere that the poorest home is 
just as great an element of strength to the state as 
the costliest mansion. To the state, to the govern- 
ment, there is no difference. 

Now, sir, these rural homes are built on small 
margins, they are maintained only by industry and 
frugality. Every factor of strength and support 
about them is important to comfortable, decent ex- 

Sir, I know something of life upon the farm; I 
know the value of little things in the economical 
system, in the sparing, cautious management prac- 
ticed there. I know how the small things are used 
to fill up and round out the seasons as they go. 
There is little that can be safely spared. 

I know, sir, the vital, the absolutely vital im- 
portance of the dairy to the maintenance not only 
of the home comforts, the sweetening of the home 
life, but its great value to that which makes the 
home possible — the farm itself. It is the one im- 
portant element in almost the only system which 
can be adopted upon the small farms to sustain their 
soil and preserve their producing properties. To 
foreclose the farmer from this essential branch of 
his business is to greatly narrow the limits of his 
industry, lessen the number of farm products, and 
force overproduction in the few produced with all 
its consequent disasters to commerce and trade. 
Speech on Bill to Tax Oleomargarine, House 
of Representatives, June 2, 1886. 

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Agriculture and Co-operation 285 

Rural Economics Needs Attention 

The high cost of living in cities compared with 
the prices received by farmers for their products 
requires our immediate attention ; we denounce the 
suppression by special interests in congress of the 
investigation of the country life commission, and we 
favor a thorough investigation of the conditions of 
country and city life, as an aid in bringing the wage- 
earner and farmer closer together, eliminating the 
wastes of distribution, promoting co-operative sell- 
ing, buying, storage, and warehousing, co-operative 
credit and knowledge of co-operative methods, col- 
lective bargaining and arbitration between employ- 
ers and employees, and the encouragement of the 
ownership of homes by wage-earners and farmers. 
Wisconsin Republican Platform, 1910. 

Good Roads for Wisconsin Farmers ^ 

I am in hearty accord with all properly directed 
movements to provide good roads, not only to the 
people of Wisconsin, but to the people of the entire 
country. As governor of Wisconsin and as United 
States senator, I have aided . in the enactment of 
legislation to secure good highways. 

However, I believe that plans for highway con- 
struction should be so perfected as to secure to the 
people who pay the taxes a dollar's worth of road 
value for every dollar expended upon highways. 
We want good highways not only in name but in 
fact. Wisconsin roads should be constructed scien- 
tifically and economically. The initial cost of a 
road is no guarantee of its value. The road, the 

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286 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

first cost of which is the least, may ultimately prove 
most expensive to the taxpayer. 

There has been criticism of the highway taxes in 
Wisconsin. Some of it was justified, because of 
the character of the roads built in some of the com- 
munities. Some of this criticism was also justified 
because of the law which permitted a few men of 
large wealth who contributed a portion of the cost, 
to force road taxes onto a community unable or 
unwilling to bear such taxation. 

The Good Roads Association of Wisconsin in 
promoting a better understanding of the value of 
scientifically constructed and co-related highways 
can supplement and aid the splendid work of the 
Wisconsin Highway Commission. 

Such a service will be a real public service. It 
will build into the life of the state, highways of a 
lasting character and tend constantly to maintain 
better and higher standards of integrity in all pub- 
lic work. 

It will be many years before Wisconsin has a 
complete and reasonably perfect system of high- 
ways. Your program of state trunk roads north 
and south and east and west is based on sound, 
economic principles. Such roads would materially 
aid the farmers and many of the small towns of the 
state. The beautiful lakes of the state would be 
made more accessible to the centers of population. 
Such improvements of our highways would bring 
thousands of tourists from other states, make better 
markets right at hand for the products of the dairy 
and farm. They will be followed by a greater incentive 
for the intensive cultivation of our land. This is 

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Agriculture and Co-operation 287 

but one aspect of the economic value of good roads 
to the farmer. Another more general and far reach- 
ing lies in the better facilities thus afforded the 
farmer to reach all of his markets. The more grain 
or produce the farmers can haul at a single load, the 
greater the return per load. This not only benefits 
the farmer, but it also will benefit the residents of 
our cities. 

I hope the good roads problem of our state will 
be worked out scientifically so as to secure the max- 
imum of benefits to the state, to distribute these 
benefits equitably over the state and so that the 
financial burden may not fall too heavily in any one 
year or upon any one community. Our roads 
should be built for all time and the work should be 
carried forward on plans satisfactory to the tax- 
payers and the people. 

La Follette's Magazine, August, 1916. 

Why the Farmers are Organizing 

Why, Senators, are you not able to see? Is there 
nothing that can arduse the statesmanship of this 
day from its lethargy? Can you not interpret this 
wonderful movement that is sweeping over the 
Middle West and going on to the Pacific and throw- 
ing out its feelers even into the New England terri- 
tory — the movement of the .Farmers' National Non- 
partisan League?. What is the cause? It is organ- 
ized because there is a belief among the people that 
there is a power that puts them at a disadvantage 
by controlling the market price of what they pro- 
duce and the market price of everything they buy. 
They have appealed to the Democratic Party and 

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288 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

they have appealed to the Republican Party, and 
they have appealed in vain, for relief; for legisla- 
tion to break the power that took out of their toil 
just what tribute it pleased; a power that forced 
them when they marketed their grain to take a low 
price and then took that grain into the great storage 
elevators and sold it to the consumer at a high 

The great body of the agriculturists of this coun- 
try decided that it had stood that thing long enough. 
They have protested ; they have appealed to the va- 
rious parties. They have gone before the various 
national committeemen; they have asked for this 
plank and that plank in the national platforms, but 
they have obtained no relief. Decade after decade 
has passed. They sweated to produce the crop; 
they sent it to market; they have taken out of it 
now enough to pay for the production and to carry 
the interest charges upon the capital invested in the 
farms. They have bought the supplies controlled 
by the Harvester Trust, the Beef Trust, the Fer- 
tilizer Trust, the Woolen Trust, and the Cotton 
Trust. The price of everything they had to buy 
has been controlled arbitrarily by selfish interests 
and is no longer controlled by competition. 

Speech in U, S. Senate^ Aug- 29, 19 19, 

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The District School 

i HEN the educators of the state agree 
on the proposition that the district 
schools are inadequate for their work, 
and are steadily lositig in usefulness 
and depreciating in popular favor; 
when this judgment is confirmed by a decreasing 
attendance upon the district school and correspond- 
ing removal to the cities for better common school 
advantages; when the best authorities give assur- 
ance that "for every hundred pupils now attending 
district school only one pupil reaches a high school," 
— then it must indeed be time to pause in praise 
of our colleges and city schools long enough to em- 
phasize the necessity of more generous support and 
of more successful supervision for the long neg- 
lected country schools. 

Wisconsin is an agricultural state. With compar- 
atively few exceptions her cities are only centers of 
farm prosperity. The products of cultivated soil, 
always the most important factor in the develop- 
ment of the commonwealth, will gain rapidly in 
importance through the acquirement by farmers of 
the vast territory in the northern half of the state, 
following the clearing of the forests. Nowhere 
does education bring dividends more regularly than 

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290 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

upon the farm. Nowhere is lack of it more extrava- 
gant in loss. The ignorant city laborer wastes only 
his own time and energy. An incompetent farmer 
may squander the productive power of the land 
which he occupies in addition to his misapplied ef- 
forts and labor. The valuable results of education 
in farm work are shown in the awakened interest 
and progressive methods which have come from the 
University dairy school and Agricultural college. 
I believe that this branch of educational work should 
be broadened in scope by adding elementary train- 
ing in agricultural knowledge to the course of study 
in district schools. 

Message to Legislature, 1901. 

The Country Schools 

For many years to come the district school must 
furnish education for the great mass of boys and 
girls born upon the farms. Probably no less than 
75 per cent of these will never attend any other 
school. How vital it is, then, that we should make 
these long-neglected schools our first care and be- 
stow upon them such attention and such aid as will 
insure the results so essential to agricultural pros- 
perity and the welfare of the state. 

Address, Annual Meeting State Board 
of Agriculture, 1901. 

Public Service 

Our state and our university are scarcely more 
than half a century old. Each is where it can be- 
gin to get a proper perspective of the other. The 
state was not created for the university, the univer- 

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Education and Public Service 291 

sity exists for the state. We, the children of this 
commonwealth, ought now to begin to appreciate the 
richness of our heritage and the full measure of our 
responsibility. It rests with us to do much to per- 
petuate it in all the plenitude of its power and 
greatness among the states of the union. 

That university man or woman who fails, after 
leaving these portals, to render some distinct and 
valuable service to the state is a pensioner upon the 
slate's bounty. The opportunity waits for all. 
Scarcely a day passes but brings with it the occa- 
sion and opens the way. It may require sacrifice. 
It may ask courage. It may provoke criticism. 
But the state has prepared us for this work, has de- 
veloped our powers, enlarged our capacity for use- 
fulness in the world, and we are in honor bound, 
whenever we can, to strike the blow and say the 
word which makes the state stronger, promotes a 
better public policy, and insures a better govern- 

Alumni Banquet, University, 190I; 

On Elementary Education 

It cannot be complained that the state has been 
negligent in the matter of financial aid to the com- 
mon schools, but the official statistics of school at- 
tendance reveal the necessity of something more 
than money expenditure if the district school is to 
retain a degree of usefulness at all commensurate 
with its cost. Figures taken from the reports in the 
department of the state superintendent show that 
during the last six years with a steady, almost uni- 
form, increase in the number of persons of school 

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292 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

age in the state, there has been in the same period 
an equally steady decrease in the percentage or 
proportionate number of such persons enrolled in 
the public schools, without corresponding increase 
in the number of persons of school age attending 
private schools. The same statistics show that 
nearly one-half of the total number were enrolled in 
the country, village and small city schools^ while 
the average daily attendance approximates less than 
sixty per cent of the enrollment. The attendance in 
many of the villages and small cities is comparatively 
high, and the inevitable conclusion is that the 
average daily attendance in the country schools is 
probably not more than fifty per cent of the total 
enrollment. The teaching force, accommodations, 
and equipment provided, were ample for a full at- 
tendance every day. Wholly disregarding the evil 
effect of such absences upon teachers and fellow 
pupils in a progressive school, the mere financial 
loss is worthy your most careful consideration. 
When approximately four million dollars is ex- 
pended for school purposes throughout the state, 
outside the cities under city superintendents, a clear 
waste of nearly forty per cent of that expenditure 
through absence of pupils, who by right and by law 
should be in school, is not a matter to be neglected. 
It is pointed out by educators that this sum would 
much more than provide for comfortable transporta- 
tion of all children in country districts to well built, 
well graded and well taught central schools. The legis- 
lature of 1901 enacted a law to provide for transporta- 
tion of pupils in rural districts, and I commend to your 
attention the need of effort to improve these laws and 

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Education and Public Service 293 

make them more effective in promoting the excellent 
work for which they were originally designed. The 
certain result will be larger attendance at the common 
schools with less expense to the commonwealth. 
Message to Legislature, 1903. 

Obligations of Citizenship 

. The state welcomes the ever increasing tendency 
to make the university minister in a direct and prac- 
tical * way to the material interests of the state. 
Agriculture, mining, manufacturing and commerce 
are already ' turning here for direct practical aid. 
On this material basis alone the university is pay- 
ing back to the state an hundred fold every dollar 
appropriated to its support. 

Standing here at the close of the first half cen- 
tury, we turn to meet the increasing responsibilities 
of the coming years. It is not enough that this uni- 
versity shall zealously advance learning, or that it 
shall become a great store-house of knowledge into 
which is gathered the accumulating fruits of re- 
search and all of the world's best culture, or that it 
shall maintain the highest standards of scholarship 
and develop every latent talent — all these are essen- 
tial — but the state demands more than all these. 
The state asks that you give back to it men and 
women strong in honesty and integrity of character, 
in each of whom there is deeply planted the obliga- 
tion of allegiance to the state. That obligation 
should meet them as they cross that threshold of 
this institution and go in and out with them day by 
day until it is a conviction as strong as life. 

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294 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

That obligation cannot be discharged by the pas- 
sive performance of the merely normal duties bi 
citizenship. Upon every citizen rests the obligation 
to serve the state in civil life as the soldier serves 
the country in war. To this high duty the children 
of the university are specially called. The state has 
prepared you for this work and you are honor- 
bound to strike the blow or say the word which will 
make the state stronger, promote a better public 
policy, insure a better government. To be silent 
when you should speak, to dodge, or evade or skulk, 
IS to play the coward. To compromise with the op- 
ponents of just equal government for personal ad- 
vantage or business gain is to betray the state and 
make barter of citizenship. 

Fear has been expressed by endowed universities 
that state universities would be affected by politics. 
For fifty years politicians have come and gone in 
the state of Wisconsin, but the lamp of learning has 
never been trimmed, or turned down, or put out. 
The spirit of our university has continued to be 
democratic. In a state university every branch of 
learning stands on an equality. The state welcomes 
the efforts of the university to assist to the practi- 
cal advantage of the people of the state. Every 
dollar invested in our university is returned in 
practical benefit to the people of the state one hun- 
dred fold. The state asks that you give back to it 
men and women strong in honesty and moral char- 
acter, who shall appreciate the obligation they owe 
of loyalty to the state. 

Address, Inauguration of President 
Van Hise, June 7, 1904. 

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Education and Public Service 295 

Address to University Alumni 

Rich in soil and scenery, with lakes and rivers 
unrivaled, rich in forests and mines and manufac- 
tures and the natural conditions for a remarkably di- 
versified agriculture, Wisconsin has the attributes 
and elements which make for the highest material 
rank and power among her sister states. But the 
greatness of a state does not lie in its area, its com- 
merce, its bonds and stocks and wealth and ac- 
cumulated splendors. It lies back of all these in 
the character of her citizenship. It was just here 
that Wisconsin was most fortunate from the begin- 
ning. Our tempting forests and prairies and mines 
were opened to occupation and development at that 
period in the history of our country when the east 
could still furnish to the west, choice representatives 
of the rugged, original natures combined of puritan 
severity and quaint Yankee shredwness. So that in 
our population today runs the blood of the sturdy 
pioneer from New England, Maine, New York, 
Ohio and Indiana commingled with that of the 
hardy emigrant from Europe, who came when the 
conditions abroad were likewise timely for giving to 
us the strongest types which the best foreign coun- 
tries could possibly furnish. 

I do not know to what extent in this new century 
the obligation of the student to the state is made 
part of the daily thought of university life, but I 
well remember when it found expression in every 
convocation and was heard from time to time in 
every classroom. It may be that in those dear old 
days, when the institution was poor and the support 

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296 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

feeble, the appropriation looked larger, the oppor- 
tunities offered more precious, and the obligation 
more exacting. But I do know that it was always 
present with us then and in some way we were 
made to feel, that as our Alma Mater was to us, so 
was the state to her ; that we were within the bond, 
and as the state nourished and sustained the uni- 
versity, so should we ever serve and defend the state. 

With the marvelous growth of the university, 
men and women go out from here each year into 
every section and corner of the commonwealth. 
I'hey should bear with them as an abiding obliga- 
tion, the thought that their first and foremost duty 
is to pay back in earnest, persistent, conscientious 
effort for good government, the debt due to the 

I would not disparage scholarship, but venture to 
say that before all things, the university owes it to 
the state to give it good citizens — men and women 
who will fight the battles of the state, against all 
the combination of evil. I do say that the student 
should never be permitted to forget while here that 
he is primarily training for the duties of citizen- 
ship; and when he goes out, whatever may be his 
occupation or profession, it should be as one who 
has enlisted for life in the service of the state. 

When this settles down as a conviction into the 
mind of every citizen and taxpayer, how direct will 
become his interest in the university ! It will be his 
institution then, doing his service, equipping its 
graduates to protect his personal and property 
rights, as the advocates of clean and honest service 

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Education and Public Service 297 

in municipal and state government. When this 
mighty power for the general good is once fully felt 
throughout the state, when this sleeping giant is 
once awakened to his obligations and conscious of 
his strength, the university will not longer come 
cringing past an impudent and arrogant lobby, as 
a suppliant to the state for an appropriation that it 
may live and meet the increasing demands upon it ; 
but, erect with a new dignity and a new power, 
knowing the value of its service to the citizen and 
to the state which supports it, secure in the aflPec- 
tions of the whole people, receive their free offering 
to enlarge and expand its widening field of useful- 
ness to the state. 

With the university as a great recruiting station, 
the ranks of patriotic citizenship shall ever swell 
with increasing numbers, armed for the state's best 
service. O, you, who stand ready for the work to- 
day, are you fully conscious of your duty and your 
opportunity ? Not since the days of the sixties have 
greater issues called for truer men. Upon you the 
state has bestowed the best training which fifty 
years of fostering care could develop. You go forth 
in her best armor with sword and sheaf upon which 
she has wrought with infinite pains for half a cen- 
tury. She is waiting for you in every community ; 
she needs every arm. Strike always for the state 
and you will strike for the right. So shall the state 
grow stronger and stronger, so shall great and 
greater honor come to our university. 

Address, University Alumni Dinner, 

June 19, 1901. 

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298 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

To High School Pupils 

It is a great pleasure to meet you for a few min- 
utes this morning and give you a greeting. I con- 
gratulate you on behalf of the state for the work 
you are doing in your high school. It is a matter 
of pride to me to look over this splendid assembly 
this morning and to have impressed upon me as 
you impress me, the splendid work the state of Wis- 
consin is accomplishing through its school system. 
I am glad to be here personally for another reason. 
My earliest recollection of school work in its broad 
sense is associated with your principal (M. S. Fraw- 
ley). My mind goes back to my boyhood days when he 
was county superintendent of that portion of Dane 
County in which I lived. Along through the years 
i have watched his career and have ever admired 
him, and I congratulate you on having at the head 
of this school so competent, earnest and honest a man 
aj; director of your work. May he long continue in 
the work here unless it be the fortune of the state 
to see him called to some higher place. 

I am glad to be here for another reason. I like 
to look into the faces of the youth and to light again 
my ow^n enthusiasm from that which is down in the 
minds of the young. You will go out from here in 
a little while when you have completed your work. 
You will go out with a well rounded education pre- 
pared to take up the work in the higher schools of 
Wisconsin and to meet the triads of life, for they 
will come to you, come to each one of you. You 
have possibly been told so many times that it has 
become trite and tiresome to you that these are 
your best days. 

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Education and Public Service 299 

I do wish there was some way I could make you 
realize that the best of life is today. Get all the 
good, all the pleasure out of it that you can, because 
in a little while you will have to meet the serious 
side of life. Into the life of each of you there will 
come trouble. You will have your sorrows, your 
griefs, your disappointments and I am sure that the 
discipline that you are getting here now will help 
you to meet it, because I am confident that under 
this leadership you are getting a training in some- 
thing more than books. Book knowledge is import- 
ant. You must have it. You cannot get too much 
of it, but I am sure that the importance of character 
building is necessary in everything that you do. 
It is the highest essential of your life; you cannot 
accomplish anything without it, that is anything 
worth having, that will endure, and I say to you 
that character building is the most important part 
of education. 

If it was a question of never opening the books, 
or of having the broad education closed to you, I 
should feel that it were better to have training of 
acts than the training of books. But if you have 
them both and I am sure that you carry into each 
day's work that spirit of honesty which is building 
up the best side of your life, you cannot cheat in a 
lesson or examination, for it leaves a scar on your 
character. You cannot do it without weakening the 
armor you are having fitted upon you now for the 
battle of life. Everything you do is simply putting 
another plate, another rivet in the armor you are 
wearing when you go out to fight for yourself, your 
state and your country, and every time you are 

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300 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

tempted to evade duty or cheat a teacher you are 
putting a false plate, a weak rivet in that armor. 
We are such creatures of habit that the things we 
do once we are almost bound to do again, and so I 
say that the most important part of your education 
is in doing honestly and faithfully the task of each 
day, in equipping each one to meet each event, each 
requirement and each responsibility throughout life, 
and now let me say to you that I wish you every- 
thing good in your individual lives that can come 
to members of the human family, and I speed you 
Godspeed on your way. 

To Eau Claire, Wis,, High School, 
October 2, 1903. 

Moral Influence of a Great Teacher 

It is difficult, indeed, to overestimate the part 
which the university has played in the Wisconsin 
resolution. For myself I owe what I am and what 
I have done largely to the inspiration I received 
while there. It was not so much the actual course 
of study which I pursued ; it was rather the spirit of 
the institution — a high spirit of earnest endeavor, a 
spirit of fresh interest in new things, and beyond all 
else, a sense that somehow the state and the univer- 
sity were intimately connected, and that they should 
be of mutual service. 

The guiding spirit of my time, and the man to 
whom Wisconsin owes a debt of gratitude greater 
than it can ever pay was its President, John Bascom. 

I never saw Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I should 
say John Bascom was a man of much his type, both 
in appearance and character. He was the embodi- 

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. Education and Public Service 301 

ment of moral force, and moral enthusiasm ; and he 
was in advance of his time in feeling the new social 
forces and in emphasizing the new social responsi- 
bilities. His addresses to students on Sunday after- 
noon, together with his work in the class room were 
among the most important influences in my early 
life. It was his teaching, iterated and reiterated, of 
the obligation of both the university and the stu- 
dents to the mother state that may be said to have 
originated the Wisconsin idea in education. 

He was forever telling us what the state was do- 
ing for us, and urging in return our obligation not 
to use our education wholly for our own selfish 
benefit, but to return some service to the state. That 
teaching animated and inspired hundreds of stu- 
dents who sat under John Bascom. 

In those days we did not so much get correct po- 
litical views, for there was then little teaching of 
sociology or political economy worthy of the name, 
but we somehow did get, and largely from Bascom, 
a proper attitude toward public affairs. And when 
all is said, this attitude is more important than any 
definite views a man may hold. 

Years afterward when I was governor of Wis- 
consin John Bascom came to visit us at the execu- 
tive residence at Madison, and I treasure the words 
he said to me about my new work: 
. "Robert," he said, "you will doubtless make mis- 
takes in judgment as governor, but never mind the 
political mistakes so long as you make no ethical 

John Bascom lived to be 84 years old, dying in 
J911 at his home in WilHamstown, Mass. Up to 

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302 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

the last his mind was clear and his interest in the 
progress of humanity as keen as ever. In his 
later years he divided his time between his garden 
and his books — a serene and beautiful old age. His 
occasional letters and his writings were always a 
source of inspiration to me. 

In all my fights in Wisconsin the university and 
the students have always stood firmly behind me. 
In a high sense the university has been the reposi- 
tory of progressive ideas; it has always enjoyed 
both free thought and free speech. When the test 
came years ago the university met it boldly where 
some institutions faltered or failed. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Greeting to Dr. John Bascom 

I am accorded the high honor of extending to you 
here tonight a greeting and welcome on behalf of 
the state. Believe, me, sir, this welcome is deeply 
sincere and heartfelt. 

Time has wrought many changes since that day, 
so well remembered by us all, when you left us 
fourteen years ago. The state has grown remark- 
ably in numbers and wealth and power. It has 
made notable progress in its educational work and 
in its conduct of all its state institutions. While 
temporary delays and disappointments are encount- 
ered here as elsewhere, nevertheless through this 
commonwealth an increasing sense of the responsi- 
bilities of citizenship is everywhere manifest, and 
a well developed and powerful public sentiment 
must soon place Wisconsin high among her sister 
states in all that pertains to good government and 

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Education and Public Service 303 

the upbuilding of a noble statehood. It is fitting 
that you should be reminded of this progress, be- 
cause you have been the source and the inspiration 
of so large a share of it. What we owe to you in- 
dividually, each of us here tonight realizes more 
and more as the years go by. What this institution 
and this state owe to you can never be fully meas- 

When first called to the university, you came from 
a state and from an institution old in educational 
methods; refined in educational taste; fixed in edu- 
cational ideas; but your breadth, your comprehen- 
ision, your wisdom, enabled you to establish in our 
institution the foundation of a great university. You 
valued our raw youth at its true worth, and saw in 
it strong material for future citizenship. The small 
numbers of students, the unpretentious buildings, 
the meagre accommodations did not bind you to the 
possibilities of the university. Our plain attire, 
country breeding, imperfect preparation, but earn- 
est ambition for education and enlarged opportuni- 
ties, enlisted your sympathy and inspired the deep- 
est interest. 

In the midst of the most trying circumstances and 
most discouraging situations you conquered opposi- 
tion, maintained your faith in the institution, and 
kept constantly uppermost your high ideals of the 
mutual relationship of the state and the university. 
The obligation of generous support from the state 
and the corresponding obligation of the alumni to 
the state were daily impressed with great force and 
clearness upon all who came within your influence. 
No student ever left this university while you were 

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304 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

its president, whose college education was not thor- 
oughly seasoned with this sense of high moral obli- 
gation to serve the state upon every occasion with 
all that was best in him. Much of the enlarged 
scope, the harmonious development, the phenom- 
enal growth of the university is due to the thorough 
inculcation of this idea upon the great body of stu- 
dents who passed in and out during all those years. 

From its foundation down to this hour there was 
never a time when you could have rendered a greater 
service to the university and to the state than at the 
critical period which marked the beginning of your 
administration. The institution had just reached 
the most impressionable stage in its growth and 
development when you were called to the presi- 
dency. It was a fortunate day for the institution 
and for the future of the state. Youthful, plastic, 
yet full of lusty vigorous life, the time was ripe for 
some master mind to make an everlasting impres- 
sion upon the character of the university, and 
through it upon the commonwealth. The hour was 
come, and, thank God, the man ! For thirteen years 
— the most precious years of its life — this state had 
a great thinker, philosopher and teacher at the head 
of its highest educational institution. 

Whoever shall set bounds, or fix limitations upon 
your noble work, let him look beyond executive 
orders and the presidential office. Let him look be- 
yond the covers of any book and the walls of any 
class room. He will readily determine that every- 
where, underlying all work, and all life in the in- 
stitution, pervading its whole atmosphere, entering 
into the daily thought and being of each student. 

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Education and Public Service 305 

was the mysterious power with which you laid hold 
of youth, grounded and established principles ad- 
mitting of no compromise with error and evil, 
builded character of adamant, yet preserved indi- 
viduality — in short, made well-rounded, full-orbed 
men and women, and finally gave them back to the 
state with a quality of citizenship which will run 
through all the generations to come. 

The personality of a great teacher is greater than 
his teaching. Many of the written propositions of 
psychology and ethics are slipping away with the 
passing jof the years, but you abide with us forever. 
May He, who orders all our lives, lengthen your 
days that your wisdom and your moral power may 
continue to be deeply impressed upon all who are 
so fortunate as to be near to you, and may we be so 
favored as to greet you here again and again. 

University of Wisconsin, June 17, 1901. 

On Academic Freedom of the State University 

If there is any public institution in America that 
should be bulwarked and safeguarded against ignor- 
ant or covert attack, it is the University of Wiscon- 
sin. This university is famed throughout the world 
as "The Greatest State University." It has earned 
this distinction primarily because it has become 
truly THE PEOPLE'S University— because it has 
"served the time without yielding to it," because it 
stoops not to propagate the "theories" of any clique, 
class or interest, but ever explores the wide fields 
of knowledge and turns over, disinterestedly, to the 
people who maintain it, the fruits of its research. 

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3o6 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

Back in 1894, an enlightened, progressive board of 
regents issued this declaration of academic free- 

"Whatever may be the limitations Avhich trammel 
enquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state 
University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that 
continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by 
V/hich alone the truth can be found." 

In devoting itself to this high and proper public 
service, it has kept strictly out of "politics ;" hence 
it has developed no effective armor to shield it 
from the highly organized assaults of small but 
rich and powerful groups of interests who fear the 
tiuth — the truth, for instance, concerning the man- 
ner in which predatory business is systematically 
and unscrupulously exploiting the people. 

During the past year the railroad, water power, 
insurance combination came temporarily into con- 
trol in this state. This plunderbund promptly turned 
its weapons against the people's university into 
a propagandist and special pleader for their own 
"theories." As Governor Philipp — mouthpiece of 
this combination — expressed it in a recent speech: 
"I do not believe it wise to permit the teaching of 
half-baked theories of government that never have 
been demonstrated to be a success, that intimidate 
capital, and that close factory doors." The program 
laid down by the special interest combination is, to 
permit no investigation, no research nor teaching 
that has not first been censored by "capital." A 
program of abject academic slavery! 

But intelligent alumni, irrespective of political 
affiliation, have come to the rescue. A conference 

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Education and Public Service 307 

was held at Madison, November 20, to consider 
means of maintaining the high standard of the uni- 
versity and of keeping unsullied its academic free- 
dom against these plottings. Organized and sordid 
spreading of falsehood must be met by organized 
and unselfish spreading of the truth. 

Here is an opportunity for real service to the 
people of Wisconsin. If this committee succeeds 
in working out a plan of reorganization that will 
enable Wisconsin alumni in every community 
quickly and effectively to register their convictions 
and influence, a notable chapter will have been added 
to the annals of educational freedom. A working 
and democratically organized association would be 
a medium through which the people who support 
the university could be kept constantly informed 
regarding the real services it performs, the real 
spirit of its teaching and investigation, exactly 
what it costs the state to maintain it, and the mil- 
lions of money which it annually pays back to the 
taxpayers in better methods of farming, bigger 
crops, higher standards in the mechanic arts and 
a graduate body trained for the best service which 
the enlightened citizen can render the state. 

So reorganized and re-vitalized, the alumni of 
the university will furnish the most intelligent 
body of criticism whenever honest, constructive 
criticism is necessary, and a powerfully organized 
defense whenever the best interests of the univer- 
sity are threatened. Such a live progressive alumni 
army always in the field will be ever ready to stand 
a tower of strength between the university and these 

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3o8 La Pollette's Political Philosophy 

business and political interests that attempt to cen- 
ser and degrade its work. 

The need for this is urgent. The step already 
taken- by the alumni is reassuring. Let every loyal 
alumnus rally to this call to high service. 

La Follette's Magazine, November, 1915. 

'Democratizing the Senate 

In a great body like the Congress of the United 
States nearly all legislation is controlled by com- 
mittees. The sanction of a committee goes a long 
way. The life of a congressman, a senator, is a 
busy one ; he is worked early and late, and in some 
measure he must depend for the details of legisla^ 
tion upon the committees appointed for the pur* 
pose of perfecting the legislation. And as the busi- 
ness of the country grows and the subjects of leg- 
islation multiply, so committee action upon bills be- 
comes more and more important. We spend a vast 
sum of money to print a Congressional Record in 
order that the public may be made acquainted with 
the conduct of their business, and then we transact 
the important part of the business behind the locked 
doors of a committee room. The public believes 
that the Congressional Record tells the complete 
story, when it is in reality only the final chapter. 

Sir, I believe the time near at hand when we will 
change the practice of naming the regular or stand- 
ing committees of the Senate. 

It is un-American — it is undemocratic. It has 
grown into an abuse. It typifies all of the most 
harmful practices which have led to an enlightened 

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Education and Public Service 309 

and aroused public judgment to decree the destruc- 
tion of the caucus, convention, and delegate system 
of party nominations. 

Under the present system of choosing standing 
committees of the United States Senate a party 
caucus is called. A chairman is authorized to ap- 
point a committee on committees. The caucus ad- 
journs. The committee on committees is thereafter 
appointed by the chairman of the caucus. It pro- 
ceeds to alter the committee assignments of sena- 
tors. This places the selection of the membership 
of the standing committees completely in the hands 
of a majority of the committee. 

See now what has happened. The people have 
delegated us to represent them in the Senate. The 
senate, in effect, has delegated its authority to party 
caucuses upon either side. The party caucus dele- 
gates its authority to a chairman to select a com- 
mittee on committees. The committee on commit- 
tees largely defer to the chairman of the committee 
on committees in the final decision as to the com- 
mittee assignments. The standing committees of 
the senate, so selected, Mr. President, determine 
the fate of all bills; they report, shape, or suppress 
legislation practically at will. Hence the control of 
legislation, speaking in a broad sense, has been 
delegated and redelegated until responsibility to the 
public has been so weakened that the public can 
scarcely be said to be represented at all. To make 
this control of legislation water tight, the trusted 
lieutenants assigned to the chairmanship of the com- 
mittees have always exercised authority (i) to de- 

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3IO La Follette's Political Philosophy 

termine when a committee should meet (2) to ap- 
point sub-committees for the consideration of all 
bills referred to the committee by the senate, and 
(3) to name the conferees to be appointed by the 
presiding officer of the senate. The action of com- 
mittees, sub-committees, and conference committees 
on all bills, is conducted in executive session — ^that 
is to say, in secret session. As a member of the 
senate I have again and again protested against 
secret action of congressional committees upon pub- 
lic business, and against the business of congress 
being taken into secret party caucuses and there 
disposed of by party rule. I have maintained at all 
times my right as a. public servant to discuss in 
open senate and elsewhere publicly all legislative 
proceedings whether originating in the executive 
session of committees or behind closed doors of 
caucuses and conferences. 

The rules of the senate must be so changed as to 
provide for the election of members of committees 
by the senate pursuant to a direct primary con- 
ducted by each party organization under regula- 
tions prescribed by senate rules. 

The chairmen of the committees should be elected 
by a record vote of the members of such committees. 

The conferees on all bills should be elected by a 
record vote of the members of committees report- 
ing such bills. 

A permanent record should be made of the action 
of caucuses, standing committees and conference 
committees upon all matters affecting legislation. 

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Education and Public Service 311 

All caucus proceedings touching legislation and 
the proceedings of sub-committees, committees and 
conference committees should be open to the public. 
La Follette's Magazine, April 19, 1913. 

Patriotism and Party Loyalty 

I am not going to apologize for coming to New 
Jersey, I have a right to be here. Moreover, I am 
coming back here when you have a campaign, no 
matter what may be the outcome of this one. 

Most men are ambitious, in different ways. I am 
ambitious. Some want to make money, some to be 
famous in various ways. My ambition is to write 
my name with the thousands who in this trial time 
of our country have enlisted for the redemption and 
restoration of representative government. 

It is time for men to begin to work together for 
the welfare of the country. And I do not always 
urge democrats to vote the republican ticket. In 
Missouri I appealed to republicans to support Folk 
for governor. In these times there is something 
greater and better than- simply standing blindly by 
party. Of course, I know the regulars, as they call 
themselves, will say: "There's that arrant dema- 
gogue advocating bolting the party," but that doesn't 
worry me much. I appeal to patriotism of country 
rather than partisanship. I love the Republican 
party, but when my work is done, I would rather 
have written on the little stone above my head: 
"He was a patriot" than "He was a Republican." 

No one has any right to make war upon a cor- 
poration which receives only a fair interest upon 
its inve^tjn^jit* We can't afford, by legislation, to 

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312 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

impose upon or cripple, corporations doing a legiti- 
mate business along legitimate lines, in a legitimate 
way. We want the best transportation we can get, 
and we ought to be willing to pay charges that will 
make investment in these enterprises profitable. But 
these are public-service corporations. It is the duty 
of the state to stand between the people and the cor- 
porations and see exact justice done to each — ^that 
the people don't pay too much and that the com- 
panies get a fair return, and only a fair return, on 
their investment. That is what the "new idea" in 
New Jersey stands for, so far as the railroads and 
public utilities are concerned. 

Speech at Newark, N, J., Sept., 1906. 


Importance of Character in Men Elected to Office 

The most important thing of all is to send honest 
men to Washington — men in this time of stress who 
want to serve the public, and nobody else. The 
abler these men are, the better, but above all the 
people should see to it that their representatives are 
honest — not merely money honest, but intellectually 

If they have the highest standards of integrity 
and the highest ideals of service, all our problems, 
however complex, will be easily solved. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

The Future of the Republican Party 

I believed then, as I believe now, that the only 
salvation for the republican party lies in purging 
itself wholly from the influence of financial inter- 

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Education and Public Service 313 

ests. It is for this, indeed, that the group of men 
called insurgents have been fighting — ^and it is this 
that they will contend for to the end. 

I here maintain with all the force I possess that 
it is only as the republican party adopts the posi- 
tion maintained today by the progressives that it 
can live to serve the country as a party organiza- 

Autobiography, 1913. 

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The Coal Strike 

HE real issues of the coal strike have 
been obscured by the campaign of de- 
nunciation against the 450,000 miners 
who laid down their tools at midnight, 
^ October 31. 

No one will deny that the closing of the mines at 
this time is deplorable. 

But the vital question is : Who is responsible for the 
closing of the mines? — ^and the answer is not to be 
found in the extravagant statements of administration 
officials nor in the parrot phrases of the press. 

The miners are asking for a six-hour day, a five-day 
week and a wage increase of 60 per cent. The miners 
contend that their present contract, entered into for 
the period of the war, terminated with the actual 
cessation of hostilities. With wages stationary during 
the past two years, they declare they are unable to 
feed and clothe their families in the face of advanced 
living costs. 

The operators take issue with the miners. 

They contend that the present contract is binding 
and insist that it shall remain in effect until the peace 
treaty is ratified, formally ending the war. They de- 
clare the demands of the miners for higher pay are 
unreasonable and that the shorter working day and 

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Economic Problems . 315 

week will curtail production. They warn the public 
that higher wages and curtailed production will mean 
increased cost of coal to the consumer. 

In spite of the abuse which has been heaped upon 
the miners, the truth is on their side in the points at 

The validity of the present wage contract must re- 
main a mooted legal question. Suffice it to say that the 
fuel administration many months ago suspended the 
war-time regulations governing fuel prices. The 
miners contend, with some logic, that if the war is 
over for prices, it should be over for wages. 

Are the demands of the miners for a wage increase 
of 60 per cent unreasonable ? 

The present wage scale was adopted in November, 
191 7. Since that time, according to the figures of the 
department of labor, the cost of Hving has increased 
by more than 35 per cent. Meanwhile, the m'ners* 
wages have remained stationary. 

During the past year, by reason of the curtailment 
of the normal number of working days, the miners 
have received an income less by 18 per cent than the 
income for the corresponding period in 191 8, although 
living costs, by the government's figures, had increased 
9 per cent over 1918 up to July i of the present year. 
' If the wage scale agreed upon in 1917 was suffi- 
cient to enable the miners to meet the cost of living 
at that time, it is now at least 35 per cent short of that 

In seeking a wage increase of 60 per cent, the miners 
are now attempting to bring their incomes up to the 
level of living expenses and they ask a margin of 25 

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3i6 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

per cent in their favor in order to meet the constant 
advance in prices from month to month. In view of 
their experience of the past year — ^when incomes 
dropped i8 per cent and living costs mounted 9 per 
cent — ^the margin asked by the miners is not unjus- 

The claim of the operators that a shorter working 
day and week will curtail production is unfounded. 

In 1918, the operators caused the mines to be worked 
only 70 per cent of the time possible, and although 
80,000 miners were in the military service, the peak 
production of 585,000,000 tons — more than enough 
coal for the normal needs of the country — ^was reached 
as the output of bituminous coal for the year. 

During the present yejir, between January i and 
July I, the mines have been worked but 50 per cent 
of the time. 

Miner's Rights Taken Away 

The granting of the full demands of the miners as 
to a six-hour day and a five-day week would not, there- 
fore, necessarily affect production. It would have the 
wholly desirable effect of distributing the work evenly 
throughout the year, which is the object the miners 
have in view. 

The operators, by a well-directed propaganda in 
the press, have attempted to convince the public that 
the miners are responsible for precipitating the strike 
and for the consequent closing of the coal mines. 

The government has accepted this view and has 
declared half a million workmen violators of the 
law in leaving their employment. 

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Economic Problems 317 

The true position of both sides may be seen in .the 
statements issued on the eve of the strike. The 
miners* officers made the following statement: 

"The mine workers' representatives are ready, will- 
ing and anxious to meet the coal operators for the 
purpose of negotiating an agreement and bringing 
about a settlement of the present unhappy situation. 
vThey will respond at any time to a call for such a 
meeting and will honestly endeavor to work out a 
wage agreement upon a fair and equitable basis." 

Thomas T. Brewster, chairman of the scale commit- 
tee of the Mine Operators' Association, made the fol- 
lowing statement: 

"The operators will resume negotiations with the 
miners and submit all disagreements to arbitration, 
provided the strike order be rescinded pending negotia- 
tions and the award of the arbitration board." 

Thus the strike began November i, and the United 
States was left with a fast dwindling supply of bitu- 
minous coali The public may judge who is respon- 
sible for the existing shortage of coal and for the 
failure of the negotiations leading up to the strike. 

The wisdom of the administration in using the 
courts and the military to break the strike, is open 
to grave question. 

The right of workmen to strike has, up to the pres- 
ent time, been sustained by the courts. That this right 
exists is evidenced by the fact that legislation now 
pending is regarded as necessary to take that right away 
from one class of workmen — namely, the railroad em- 

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3i8 La Pollctte's Political Philosophy 

It is not within the province of the government to 
decide, that "circumstances" justify interference with 
the exercise of an undoubted legal right. 

The use of the great powers of the federal govern- 
ment on the side of men whose sinister aims against 
labor have best been expressed by Judge Gary — ^him- 
self honored by the administration by appointment 
as a government delegate to the president's industrial 
conference — does not tend toward a healthy industrial 
situation in this country. 

In the present controversy, the attempt to discredit 
half a million workmen, in order to protect the exor- 
bitant profits of a handful of employers, will inevitably 
fall of its own weight. 

The American people elected President Wilson in 
191 2, on the pledge that he would lower the cost of 

The statistics of the United States department of 
labor show that the cost of living has increased 102 
per cent since 191 3, when President Wilsoti took office. 

After mature reflection, the American people will 
not approve of the use of the machine gun and the 
injunction by the administration, in its effort to force 
450,000 miners to continue at work against their will. 

The administration which habitually fails to bring 
the profiteers to justice, in violation of its platform 
pledges, and which shows such extraordinary diligence 
in suppressing labor at the behest of employers, will, 
in the end, be discredited by the American people. 
La Follette's Magazine, November, 1919. 

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Economic Problems 319 

On Life Insurance Companies 

With the exception of the corporations which con- 
trol the transportation facilities of a commonwealth, 
there is no class of corporations more in need of care- 
ful and economical administration than those which 
make a business of life insurance. It is the business 
which gathers the savings of youth and mature man- 
hood to safeguard old age against poverty, and to 
provide sustenance and the shelter and comforts of 
home for the widow and the orphan. Infirm and un- 
provided old age, and helpless and unsupported child- 
hood become a charge upon the state. 

It is a shocking disclosure of the demoralized busi- 
ness integrity of the country when the admissions of 
the highest officials entrusted with the savings which 
the people have invested in life insurance and charged 
with the management of these funds show habitual 
violation of their trust to enrich themselves at the 
(expense of policy holders. It ought not to be necessary 
to say that no officer, agent, or employee of any insur- 
ance company should be personally interested in the 
purchase or sale of any securities of that company, 
or have any personal or pecuniary interest in the mak- 
ing of loans of the funds of the company. The disclo- 
sures of the investigation of the New York legislative 
committee have demonstrated that the policy holders 
of at least three of the largest of the companies of 
the country have been systematically plundered by the 
operations of the officers of these companies. They 
have not only voted to themselves salaries out of all 
proportion to the services rendered, but this investiga- 
tion establishes the personal financial interest of officers 

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320 La Pollette's Political Philosophy 

in the sale of securities to the companies, in the sale 
pf securities by the companies, in the use of insurance 
funds in promoting industrial enterprises, in the loans 
pf the funds of the companies, in the commissions paid 
for new business, in contracts for supplies, in the 
rentals of company property and in the payment of 
money of the policy holders as contributions to cam- 
paign funds and as salaries to legislative representa- 

It appears from the testimony taken before the 
New York investigating committee that one of the 
great sources of evil is the improper affiliation of insur- 
ance companies with other business enterprises, both 
through the personal connections of insurance officials 
with such enterprises, and through the holdings of 
stock and other voting securities of industrial and 
transportation companies by insurance companies. A 
conservative estimate places the par value of secur- 
ities owned by insurance companies, which carry with 
them voting power, at over one hundred millions of 
dollars. To the extent to which these securities rep- 
resent voting power insurance companies, acting 
through their officials, participate in the management 
of other business enterprises. This is beyond the legiti- 
mate province of life insurance companies. 

It is questionable if insurance companies should in^ 
vest in securities of this character at all, but if invest- 
ments in selected shares of unquestioned yalue b^ 
expedient the voting po^yer that they may carry should 
be invested in a public official not connected, with an 
insurance company or any industrial or transportation 

Governor's Message, Special Session^ 1905. 

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Economic Problems 321 

Veto of Police Powers to Corporations 

This bill is far-reaching in effect. It impinges the 
spirit of the constitution of the state, is subversive of 
the fundamental principles of good government, and 
vicious in principle. It authorizes street and other 
railway companies doing business in this state to ap^ 
point policemen empowered to arrest with or without 
warrant any person who in their presence shall com- 
mit upon or in or about their premises any offense 
against the laws of the state, or of the ordinances 
of any town, village or municipality, and clothes them 
with the authority of sheriffs in regard to the arrest 
or apprehension of such offenders in or about the 
premises or appurtenances of such companies. 

Section nine of article thirteen of the constitution 
clearly prohibits the appointment of officers entrusted 
v/ith the exercise of governmental powers by private 
individuals or corporations. The appointment itself 
must be made by a representative body of the state 
or some governmental subdivision or officer thereof; 
or the office must be filled by an election. The legis- 
lature cannot delegate the power to appoint or elect 
otherwise than to public authority. This is so even 
as to the officer exercising only in the slightest degree 
governmental functions. Neither the private individual 
nor corporation can be authorized to clothe with gov- 
ernmental power or authority any person whomsoever. 
Peace officers, policemen and sheriffs exercise in the 
.highest degree the sovereign power of the government. 
They are very important factors in the administration 
of the criminal law of the state. Their duties are 
closely connected with the subject of the personal 

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322 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

liberty and restraint of the citizen. They are state 
officers in that they exercise an important part of the 
sovereign power of the state. The constitution pro- 
hibits the exercise of this power to create and appoint 
its officers by private individuals or corporations. 
If it could delegate any part of the powers of govern- 
ment to private individuals all might be bestowed upon 
them. The state and its political subdivisions might 
be divested of all power over the subject and would 
lead to conflict, confusion, and anarchy. The police- 
men provided for in this bill are given the power and 
authority of sheriffs in and about all the property 
designated therein, which would include all the streets 
in each city through, which street railway companies 
run or operate their cars, and all territory adjacent 
and appurtenant to their structures, buildings, and 
property. If the legislature have the power to clothe 
these persons appointed by street or other railway com- 
panies with the authority of sheriffs, it could endow 
them with such authority as to constitutional officers. 
He must be elected by a vote of the people. He can 
hold his office but one term, and hold no other office 
during that term. If the legislature could bestow upon 
policemen appointed by private individuals so impor- 
tant an authority and prerogative of the sheriff, it 
could divest him of all power and invest the individual 
with that power without limitation as to the tenure 
of, or regard to his qualifications for, the office. The 
constitution is a barrier to the enactment of this bill 
into law. To the citizen there is no subject of more 
vital importance than the one that touches the restraint 
of his personal liberty. The constitution of the United 
States as well as that of the state, has made this para- 

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Economic Problems 323 

mount and all-important. The fundamental law of 
the land forbids that the subject should be dealt with 
lightly, or that the citizen should be restrained of his 
liberty except by due form of law. It forbids that 
private or personal ends or private or personal inter- 
ests should be a moving or controlling factor in com- 
passing the arrest of any person, except through the 
instrumentality and by the authority of public officers. 
The machinery of the criminal code should not, and 
cannot be the fundamental law of the land, be operated, 
controlled, or moved solely by the interests of the 
private individual necessarily actuated and influenced 
by a sense of his own injury as distinguished from 
that of the general public. The power to arrest cannot 
and ought not to be delegated to the appointee of 
private interests. Such appointment would be subver- 
sive of the principles of representative government. 
The person appointed to exercise governmental powers 
would not be the representative of the state, but that 
alone of the private interests from which he derives his 
power and receives his compensation. 

Every person guilty of a crime should be punished. 
All should be protected in their individual and prop- 
erty rights. It is the bounden duty of the state, and 
its political subdivisions, to give to both the individual 
and property rights the highest degree of protection. 
It should not, were it permissible under the constitu- 
tion or the fundamental law of the land, delegate this 
power to the individual himself. Neither the state 
nor any political subdivision thereof can, without the 
most damaging admission of its weakness, lasting loss 
of its dignity, and grievous wound to its statehood and 
its government, county, city, town, and municipality. 

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324 ^^ FoUette's Political Philosophy 

farm out its power to protect any or all within its 
borders from injury to either person or property. If 
one interest may be empowered to take into its own 
hands the independent administration of any part of 
the criminal code of the state, there is no reason why 
all interests and each individual should not be so em- 
powered. The result would be the destruction pf all 
governmental power and the substitution therefor of 
independent forces legal in form, but without consti- 
tutional authority in fact. 

Veto Message, April 23, 1901. 

Ship Subsidies-— A Special Privilege 

We are unequivocally opposed to the granting of 
shipping subsidies by the federal government, in the 
form of ocean mail subvention or otherwise. We 
hold that an American merchant marine cannot be 
upbuilt by appropriations from the tax-contributed 
treasury of the people for the enrichment of a special 

Republican State Platform, 19 10. 

l... - . ' ; 

Postal Bank Law 

The postal savings bank law should be amended to 
compel the establishment of postal pavings depositories 
throughout the country within easy reach of depositors, 
and to prevent the concentration of the postal savings 
in the large centers and their use in financial manipu- 
lations by the great corporate and banking interests 
in Wall street. 

Republican State Platform, 19 10. 

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Public Rights in Water Powers 

IVE hundred and sixteen laws granting 
franchises to dam navigable streams 
within this state have been passed since 
the organization of the territory of Wis- 
consin. Formerly many of these grants 
were for logging purposes. The great reduction in 
lumbering within the last few years has considerably 
decreased the number of grants made in aid of log- 
ging and lumbering. Notwithstanding this fact, the 
demand for franchises to build dams across the navi- 
gable streams of the state, seems to be increasing. It 
is, therefore, clearly manifest that capital has awak- 
ened to the opportunities which these water powers 
offer for permanent investment. It is certainly desira- 
ble that this should be encouraged in every proper way. 

It has, heretofore, been the policy of the state to 
grant to any party seeking the same, the right to build 
dams across navigable streams anywhere within the 
limits of the commonwealth. Provided that its action 
does not conflict with the action of congress upon the 
same subject, the state has the undoubted authority 
to determine where and under what conditions dams 
may be constructed across its navigable waters. The 
only conditions which it has attached to grants of 
this character up to the present time, are the right 

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326 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

to amend or repeal the same, and the requirement that 
fishways shall be maintained in all dams. It is the 
law that the structure must improve the navigation 
of the stream. Whenever those applying for these 
franchises have sought the authority, the legislature 
has freely conferred upon them the right to condemn 
and take the lands of others, and overflow the same, 
by providing effective statutory proceedings to that 

Probably not more than half a dozen states in the 
union are so abundantly supplied with natural water 
power as Wisconsin and no state in the middle west 
is comparable to it in this respect. More than one 
thousand lakes, widely distributed within its borders, 
form natural reservoirs, furnishing sources of supply 
to the streams which flow through every section of 
the state. 

In the early life of states and municipalities fran- 
chises are freely granted for the building of ferries 
and bridges, turnpikes, railroads, and street railways. 
Liberal donations of moneys and lands are frequently 
bestowed upon those receiving the franchises. Eager 
to secure rapid development, little thought is taken 
for the future, and no consideration given to the 
proper restrictions or limitations to be imposed upon 
those who are the beneficiaries of these valuable pub- 
lic grants. 

Our navigable streams and rivers, like our streets 
and highways, are open to the free use of the people 
of the state. No one can acquire ownership in these 
waters. If the public through legislation, grants fran- 
chises, surrendering the use of any of its navigable 

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Conservation 327 

waters to individuals or corporations, it is entitled to 
a reasonable consideration therefor. This it may not 
choose to take as a money consideration, but the state 
cannot do less than recognize the rights of the public, 
in making reasonable reservations at the time it con- 
fers the grants. The franchises so taken in many 
cases, grant rights of great and rapidly increasing 
value. The vast amount of power which these waters 
produce is a resource of a public nature, in the advan- 
tage and benefit of which the public should participate. 

Water Powers Invested with Public Interest 

Modern industrial development is making rapid 
progress. Already these water powers -are extensively 
employed to generate electricity. The transmission of 
this power over considerable distances is successfully 
accomplished with little loss. It will, in the near 
■future, be more widely distributed at a constantly 
diminishing cost. In manufacturing, in electric light- 
ing in cities and towns and in the country, in operating 
street and interurban cars for the transportation of 
passengers and freight, and in furnishing motive power 
for the factory and the farm, electricity will eventually 
become of great importance in the industrial life of our 

It is, therefore, quite apparent that, these water 
powers are no longer to be regarded simply as of 
local importance. They are of industrial and com- 
mercial interest to every community in the state. 
Whether it be located in the immediate neighborhood 
of a water power will, in time, make little or no differ- 
ence. While this is becoming more manifest year by 
year, it is probably true that we do not, as yet, approxi- 

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328 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

mately estimate the ultimate value of these water 
powers to the people of Wisconsin. 

It must, therefore, be apparent that this subject, 
broadly considered, is of profound interest to the people 
of this commonwealth. If the policy of the state with 
respect to these franchises ought to be changed at all, 
it certainly ought to be changed now. Reserving the 
right to amend or repeal is not enough. When rich 
and powerful companies, availing themselves of these 
grants, acting in concert, seek to resist amendment or 
repeal, their influence will prove a very serious obsta- 
cle. Economic conditions are rapidly changing in this 
state and in the country. A legislative policy which 
grants franchises without substantial conditions amply 
protecting the public, and securing to it reasonable 
benefits in return, is neither right nor just, and ought 
no longer to be tolerated. The capital already in- 
vested, industries already established, may in a few 
years, find themselves quite at the mercy of power 
companies in combined control of the water power of 
the state. 

Such investigations as I have been able to make of 
the subject plainly indicate that many of the grants- 
to construct dams heretofore passed by the legislature, 
have been secured purely for speculative purposes. In 
such cases no improvements whatever have been made. 
The grants have been held awaiting opportunities to 
sell the same with large profit to the holders, who have 
not invested a dollar for the benefit of the state, or 
its industrial development. It is obvious that those 
franchises may be gathered up, and consolidated with 
others which have been granted where improvements 

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Conservation 329 

have been made, and prices advanced until the state, 
municipalities, and the public will be compelled to pay 
an exorbitant rate for the power upon which we are 
likely to grow more and more dependent as time 

It is submitted to your honorable body that the time 
has come to give this subject the careful consideration 
which its great importance demands. I believe that 
the state should encourage the development of its nat- 
ural resources, including its water power system, in so 
far as it may properly do so ; but the obligation rests 
upon those charged with the responsibility and clothed 
with authority, to encourage this development under 
such conditions as will justly and fairly protect the 
public right in these great natural advantages. 

Message to Legislature, April 12, 1905. 

(Note : In this message Gov. La Follette is shown to 
have been a pioneer in the conservation movement, 
later capitalized by so many public officials and publi- 
cists. It was one of the first public notes sotmded on 
the subject, and antedated the messages of President 
Roosevelt by several years.) 

Indian Coal Lands 

I believe that the time has come, Mr. President, 
for this government to declare a policy with respect 
to the ownership of coal lands by transportation com- 
panies ; or to state the proposition more broadly, with 
respect to any transportation company going into com- 
petition with the producers who must ship over their 
lines. You cannot conceive of a highway being open 
and free to all shippers alike when those who are oper- 

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330 La Follette*8 Political Philosophy 

ating the highway are interested in reducing the profits 
or diminishing the holdings of competitors who ship 
over their lines of road. 

For that reason I have incorporated in this amend- 
ment the proposition that not only the railroad com- 
pany shall be barred from acquiring title to this land^ 
but the deeds when executed shall contain a provision 
against the officials and stockholders of the companies 
becoming the owners of these coal lands. 

It may be said here, Mr. President, as it was said 
in the committee on Indian affairs when I offered the 
amendment that if the railroads want these lands 
they will get them. But I desire to record here my 
protest against the doctrine that now or at any time 
in the history of this cotmtry it shall ever be said that 
the railroad companies can secure the mastery and 
control the ownership of any of the natural products 
of this cotmtry. In other words, to put it a little dif- 
ferently I believe that this government, however it may 
have appeared in recent years to the contrary, is 
stronger than any of its creatures ; that this govern- 
ment is stronger than all the railroad companies in 
aggregation, stronger than all of the centralized power 
of this country represented in unlawful combinations 
and trusts. 

So, Mr. President, I venture to ask senators to sup- 
port the amendment which I have offered here and 
to write it into the statute books of the United States 
that railway companies shall be common carriers and 
nothing else, and to so write it as to make it effective. 
First Speech in U. S, Senate, March i, 1906. 

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Conservation 331 

Saving Alaska's Resources 

The American people are waging a losing fight in 
Alaska. On the one hand are the 35,000 pioneers who 
are risking their lives and fortunes in the exploration 
and prospecting of its undiscovered resources. On 
the other hand are the millions of American people to 
whom this great storehouse of natural resources be- 
longs. Between them is the enormous power of the 
greatest concentration of capital that the world has 
ever known. 

Will the American people be so blind, so dull, as 
to permit this enormously rich field to become the 
property of Morgan and those allied with him, and 
thus force all the great western country and the mil- 
lions who are to people it in the generations to come 
to pay such extortionate prices for coal as that power 
will certainly exact, or will the people of this country, 
who own Alaska, see to it that this great storehouse 
of wealth shall be used for the benefit of all the people, 
their children, and their children's children, for all 

The American people are the owners of the resources 
of Alaska. The government should own and build 
the transportation facilities for the same reason that 
a private corporation, if owning the resources, would 
build and own them. The government itself should 
own and operate at least one great coal mine, to supply 
its naval and military needs, and to sell the surplus 
at a reasonable profit, as a check against extortion by 
private corporations developing other mines. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, August 21, 191 1. 

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333 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Waste of Public Domain 

Originally the public domain of the United States 
amounted in roimd numbers to 1,400,000,000 acres. Of 
this amount nearly all of the original domain available 
for agriculture and the greater part of our mineral 
wealth outside of Alaska have been disposed of, 
amounting in round numbers to more than 700,000,000 

Out of the 571,000,000 acres disposed of to individ- 
uals and corporations there have been acquired through 
the exercise pf the homestead right only 115,000,000 
acres. The railroads and other corporations had be- 
stowed upon them by congressional grants, without 
any return whatever to the government, in round num- 
bers, 123,000,000 acres. 

In addition to that, there has been conferred upon 
the railroads by state grants lands theretofore granted 
by the federal government to the several states, increas- 
ing the total grant to the railroads, in round numbers to 
190,000,000 acres of land — enough to make the states 
of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Wis- 

And the government, through its executive depart- 
ments, has sold at a mere nominal price, in round rium- 
ber, 182,000,000 acres. 

The disposition of our mineral resources especially, 
and until recently our forests, forms a shameful chap- 
ter in the history of our nation. These mineral re- 
sources belonged to all of the people. In the early 
history this was recognized and we started out upon 
a correct basis. By an ordinance in 1785 the govern- 
ment reserved to itself one-third part of all gold, silver, 

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Conservation 333 

lead and copper mines, to be sold or otherwise disposed 
of as congress shall hereafter direct. 

But in 1829 cupidity and greed commenced to tri- 
umph, and the abandonment of this policy began. In 
1845 congress repealed the leasing system of mineral 
lands. Had the policy of leasing been continued and 
applied to our coal, iron, oil, and copper lands and 
lands containing precious metals with suitable provi- 
sion for control, the revenue from that source alone 
would today be almost sufficient to defray all of the 
expenses of our national government. 

And what is more important, the trusts and monop- 
olies which now exist and threaten the welfare of all 
of our people would not have been possible. 

The statute of 1873 as to coal lands provided for the 
sale of known coal lands at "not less than $10 per 
acre," if more than fifteen miles from a complete rail- 
road, and "not less than $20 per acre" for lands within 
fifteen miles of a complete railroad. The act made it 
perfectly clear, however, that the land should be sold 
for its full value. 

This valuable property was sold from 1873, y^^ir 
after year down to 1906 just as if congress had written 
into that law a direction to the federal government 
that it must not charge more than $10 or more than 
$20 an acre in either of the cases defined by the statute. 

Is it to be marveled at that the people of the coun- 
try have waked up to a realization of their betrayal 
and demand some check upon those called upon to 
^erve them who serve instead their own interests and 
that of others, and who betray the public? 

Speech at EdwardsvUle, III,, January 5, 19 12. 

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334 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

Conserve Our National Resources 

The Rooseveltian epoch in American history may 
have many or few things to make it memorable, but 
one alone is sufficient to give it place in history — ^the 
inauguration of the great movement for the conserva- 
tion of our national resources. Men of foresight and 
penetration have for years been occasionally pointing 
out the enormous waste with which we are carrying 
forward our wonderful progress; but we have never 
awakened to the portentous situation until now — even 
if we are quite awake now. 

We have looked upon the earth's resources as inex- 
haustible; but the truth is that they are in process of 
rapid exhaustion. We have felt that our rivers are 
not needed in the scheme of production and distribu- 
tion; but we find that our railways are periodically 
clogged with a current of traffic too great for them to 
move, that we are handicapped in seeking the conquest 
of foreign markets by the superior facilities of nations 
which have improved their waterways, and that in 
the rivers and canal-routes left undone, we have neg- 
lected one of our great national assets, and one that 
we must use, or abandon the interior of the continent 
to an arrest of industrial development. 

We have thought our farmers the best in the world ; 
but we now learn that lands in the old world which 
have been farmed since the beginning of the Christian 
era are less exhausted than fields tilled by us for fifty 
years, that the best of our fertility is being washed 
away year by year through faulty tillage, and that the 
phosphate beds of our nation, in criminal disregard of 
the growing needs of our own soils, are being mined 

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Conservation 335 

and sent to Europe to restore her fertility. We have 
thought of the coal and iron deposits of the United 
States as ample for all our imaginable future; but 
we now can see the end of all the available ones at 
the present increase in the rate of mining by the 
present wasteful methods. 

In other words, we have acted like tenants-at- 
sufferance of a farm, "skinning" it of its best, and 
spoiling it for the next comer, with no apparent 
thought that the earth is given in trust only to the 
living, that the man or generation that robs posterity 
is the most reprehensible of robbers, and that "the 
next comer" will be our own children. 

Roosevelt and the fine group of scientists and 
scholars and engineers who have been given a hearing 
by him on these great matters, have made us see our 
faults and realize our dangers. He has appealed to 
the national conscience. He has accepted the highest 
and wisest counsels, instead of the lowest and most 
sordid. If the tide of waste and destruction is turned 
back, and a better era ushered in, it will be the chief 
glory of the Roosevelt administration to have set in 
motion the good work. 

La Follette's Magazine, February 6, 1909. 

Keep Alaskan Coal Lands for People 

The attempt of private monopoly to steal the Alas- 
kan coal fields was defeated for the time being through 
the efforts of a few courageous officials, whose sacri- 
fice and devotion to duty furnish an example worthy 
of emulation in every department and rank of the 
public service. Failing to secure the coal fields through 
perjury and fraud, special interests will exploit them 

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336 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

through a monopoly of transportation. The title to 
the coal fields of Alaska should be forever retained 
by the government subject to lease under proper regu- 
lation. The situation of Alaska is exceptional. Trans- 
portation is the basis of control. It is the key to this 
vast territory of treasure. As exceptional conditions 
in Panama required the government of the United 
States to own and operate a railroad on the Isthmus 
in order to protect its interests and the interests of 
shippers, so we hold that exceptional conditions in 
Alaska require that the federal government should 
construct, own and operate the railroads, docks and 
steamship lines necessary to the opening up of the 
Alaskan coal fields and other natural resources. 

For Control of Water Powers 

We are unalterably opposed to the surrender to the 
state by the federal government of its control over 
water power sites still a part of the national domain. 

The conservation of the natural resources of soil, 
forest, mines and water power and the settlement of 
the uncultivated lands suitable for agriculture, are the 
>f oundations of the prosperity of the state. We pledge 
legislation that shall encourage the earliest and highest 
development of these resources, while retaining all the 
rights of the people in them. A general law should 
be passed outlining a comprehensive plan for the 
development and operation of water power plants and 
providing proper restrictions under which water power 
franchises may be obtained, to the end that all per- 
sons holding water power rights may be made subject 
to the same general law. Private monopoly should be 
controlled by the leasing of water, power on limited 

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Conservation 337 

permits subject to regulation, valuation and reasonable 
compensation. Prompt action should be taken to com- 
plete our forest reserves as soon as practicable and to 
preserve our forests from destruction by fire. 

Republican State Platform, 1916. 

Giving Away the Public Wealth 

Legislation which has been permitted to be de- 
layed in conference should put Congress on inquiry. 
Ir? the closing hours, when appropriation bills in- 
volving billions upon billions of dollars must be 
considered, a measure like the pending bill, involv- 
ing the disposition of the great public domain in 
which is treasured the coal, the oil, the gas, and 
other natural resources, is thrust in here, and we 
are expected to jam it through without time for 
proper consideration. This bill, if enacted, will dis- 
pose of all the resources that will furnish heat and 
energy to the people of the United States for all 
time to come, for there is practically gathered up 
within the four corners of this proposed legislation 
all that the people have left of the coal, the oil, and 
the natural gas underlying our public lands. 

Speech in U, S, Senate, March i, 1919. 

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The Interests of Men and Women are Co-ordinate 

I T has always been inherent with me to 
recognize this co-equal interest of 
women. My widowed mother was a 
woman of wise judgment; my sisters 
were my best friends and advisers ; and 
in all the work of my public life my wife has been 
my constant companion. 

I believe not only in using the peculiar executive 
abilities of women in the state service, but I cannot 
remember a time when I did not believe in woman 
6uff rage. The great economic and industrial questions 
of today affect women as directly as they do men. 
And the interests of men and women are not antago» 
nistic one to the other, but mutual and co-ordinate. 
Co-suffrage, like co-education, will react not to the 
special privilege of either men or women, but will 
result in a more enlightened, better balanced citizen- 
ship, and in a truer democracy. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Equal Suffrage Bound to Come 

Men would go out and be shot to pieces before they 
would surrender their ballot. It is their weapon, their 
shield, their only protection against tyranny and op- 
pression in whatever form it may find expression in 
our modem life. 

The ballot is an educator. The right to vote stimu- 
lates interest in public affairs and prompts the voter 

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Equal Suffrage ^39 

to an intelligent and critical study of administrations 
and the records of public servants. 

The state could not afford to disfranchise one-half 
of its men. No more can it afford to refuse to enfran- 
chise its women. 

What the ballot is to working men it will be to the 
seven or eight million working women in this cotmtry, 
of whom Wisconsin has its share. 

Women are tax payers ; they are in business, they 
are mothers and teachers; they have shared equally 
with men in education. 

The women of Wisconsin are especially well quali- 
fied to vote. They have long been interested in the 
struggle for a more truly representative government. 

Equal Suffrage is bound to come. It is a part of 
the world's evolution in universal self-government. 
La FoUette's Magazine, November 9, 1912. 

McGovem's Veto a Blimder 

Governor McGovem's veto of the bill passed by 
the Wisconsin legislature submitting to the referendum 
vote in 1914 an amendment to the statute extending 
the right of suffrage to women, was a great surprise 
and disappointment. 

A similar amendment was submitted in 1912 and 
defeated by ninety-two thousand majority. But the 
proposed amendment received more than one hundred 
and thirty-six thousand votes for its adoption. It was 
a splendid beginning. 

Because of a large foreign population, traditionally 
conservative, and because of its great brewing inter- 
ests and perfect saloon organization, the Wisconsin 
campaign for suffrage was handicapped at the outset 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

340 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

by a lack of faith and enthusiasm. Organizing and 
conducting a state campaign was new work for the 
women of Wisconsin. But gradually inertia was over- 
come. As the campaign advanced there was a mani- 
fest awakening. It was soon apparent that the for- 
eign element was open to convictidn. The workers for 
suffrage grew confident. They became enthusiastic. 
The movement gained momentum. Late in the cam- 
paign the federation of women's clubs endorsed the 
proposed amendment. A few more weeks would have 
made a great difference in the vote for suffrage.. 

After the election it was found that the very failure 
to carry the amendment in Wisconsin which had been 
adopted in California, Oregon and Kansas, had aroused 
thousands of women and thousands of men, who had 
been indifferent, to a new sense of responsibility. 

The suffrage leaders realized the advantage of the 
awakened sentiment and growing confidence of their 
perfected and harmonized forces, and of the great 
value of the training and experience gained in a state- 
wide campaign. 

They called a state conference. That conference, 
composed of an earnest, intelligent, representative ;body 
of Wisconsin women, determined that another cam- 
paign following promptly would have cumulative edu- 
cational power, that there must be no abatement of 
interest and zeal, that to hold off for four or six years 
means loss of the ground already gained, that the next 
forward step was to secure favorable action by the 
legislature and to carry the issue to the people at the 
next election. 

It was in no spirit of child's play that the leaders of 
the suffrage movement resolved to secure the submis- 

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Equal SufFrage 541 

sion of a referendum vote in 1914. They had before 
them the example of the policy pursued in winning 
other great reforms in Wisconsin. 

The governor is developing a bad memory. 

We lost our first campaign in 1894. We lost again 
in 1896, again in 1898. We won with the people in 
1900 but lost in the legislature. We won again in the 
election of 1902, and again we lost in the legislature. 
Finally, we won with both the people and the legisla- 
ture in 1904. 

Where would Wisconsin have been today in this great 
era of progress if the leaders of reform had called 
a halt, — ^if they had thrown down their arms, aban- 
doned the field, scattered their forces, and decided to 
defer action until — ^to quote the language of the gov- 
ernor's veto message — "there is a chance, at least, that 
the experience of other states similar in many respects 
to our own may furnish guidance not available now." 

Fight for Right is Unending 

The states of Piatt and Quay, and Hinky Dink were 
then "similar in many respects to our own," but in 
those days we did not wait for them to "furnish 
guidance" for Wisconsin's future. Our flags were 
never lowered. Our arms were never stacked. Whether 
beaten before the people or in the legislature, our 
battered little army never faltered. We closed ranks, 
quickened the pace, and fought on to final victory. 

There is no difference in principle in pressing the 
same issue before the people in successive campaigns, 
and in presenting the same issue to the legislature 
in successive sessions. Our direct primary, our equal- 
ization of taxation, our railway commission law, our 

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342 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

control of public utilities and other advanced measures, 
were ultimately secured after a number of hard fought 
campaigns. And they were successive campaigns, too. 
It was for that very reason that they- won so com- 
pletely. We not only struck while the iron was hot; 
we made it hot and kept it hot by constant striking. 

That is what the new spirit of American politics 
has taught us — if we will but learn never to be dis- 
couraged, never to know defeat in a good cause. 

The governor urges that the suffrage issue would 
better be tried out in a presidential election. Common 
political experience teaches that any state issue re- 
ceives more thorough consideration on its merits in a 
state campaign, than when subordinated to national 
issues in a presidential campaign. And even though 
the amendment were to fail of adoption in 1914, the 
people will be just so much better prepared to pass 
upon it in 1916. 

Even the strongest opponents of the franchise for 
women no longer question that it will come. It is just 
a matter of education and enlightenment. Why cut 
out two years of education, why forego the chance to 
win now? The reasoning of the governor's veto is 
trivial. The legislature should pass the bill, the veto 
of the governor to the contrary notwithstanding. 
La Follette's Magazine, June 7, 1913. 

Marching in a Suffrage Parade 

My knowledge of the great suffrage parade which 
took place in New York on May 4, was gained as a 
participant rather than as a spectator, for I walked 
from Eleventh Street to Fifth Avenue, where the rep- 
resentatives of the non-suffrage states other than New 

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Equal Suffrage 343 

York gathered, to Carnegie Hall on the corner of 
Fifty-seventh Street and Seventh Avenue. I did, 
however, get a chance to look on for a time for I did 
not get into the hall to attend the meeting, but stepping 
aside from the procession found a place on the steps 
of a near-by house. From this point I saw the ovation 
which was given to the one thousand men in the parade 
as they came into Fifty-seventh Street where suffrage 
enthusiasm was greatest. They deserved the ovation, 
and were doubtless glad of it, for while they had not 
been "guyed'* in lower New York as were the eighty 
men who marched last year, they had braved no small 
measure of ridicule. 

One remarkable thing about the parade was that 
in spite of its size, variously estimated at from 10,000 
to 20,000 people, it started on time. Having found 
my place shortly before five o'clock when the proces- 
sion was scheduled to leave Washington Square, I 
had settled myself for a long wait on the principle 
that processions never started on time. Suddenly, a 
very few moments after the hour the sound of music 
was heard, and the women on horseback who headed 
the procession came into view. They had left Wash- 
ington Square on the moment. They were fifteen 
minutes late in reaching Carnegie Hall ; not their own 
fault, but that of the police. 

Where uniformity of dress had been adopted as it 
was by most of the marching clubs, the spectacle was 
most beautiful. White dresses were worn for the most 
part, and a regulation hat of white straw. Yellow 
sashes and scarfs were worn by some of the clubs, 
green and purple by others, and blue by one of the 
particularly well-drilled and dignified delegations from 

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344 La Follette'8 Political Philosophy 

up-state. But even where there was no uniformity 
of dress, it was an impressive sight, not only because 
of floating banners and waving flags but because of 
the seriousness and moral fervor of the marchers. 

Some of the inscriptions on the banners were: 

We prepare children for the world ; we ask to pre- 
pare the world for our children. 

More ballots, less bullets. 

Women vote in China, but are classed with criminals 
and paupers in New York. 

Dr. Anna Shaw carried a flag with the inscription: 
"We are trying to catch up with China.'* 

Best of all was a banner carried by The Men's Equal 
Suffrage League of New Jersey which bore this 
legend : 

"La Follette is the only presidential candidate stand- 
ing unequivocally for woman suffrage. 

"Woman suffrage has passed the stage of argument ; 
you could not stop it if you would, and in a few years 
ycu will be ashamed that you ever opposed it." 
Mrs. R. M, La Follette, in 

La Follette' s Magazine, May, 19 12. 

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The Modem Newspaper 

NE would think that in a democracy 
like ours, people seeking the truth, able 
to read and understand, would find the 
press their eager and willing instruct- 
ors. Such was the press of Horace 
Greeley, Henry Raymond, Chas. A. Dana, Joseph 
Medill, and Horace Rublee. 

But what do we find has occurred in the past few 
years since the money power has gained control of 
our industry and government? It controls the news- 
paper press. The people know this. Their con- 
fidence is weakened and destroyed. No longer are 
the editorial columns of newspapers a potent force 
in educating public opinion. The newspapers, of 
course, are still patronized for news. But even as 
to news,, the public is fast coming to understand 
that wherever news items bear in any way upon the 
control of government by business, the news is 
colored; so confidence in the newspaper as a news- 
paper is being undermined. 

Cultured and able men are still to be found upon 
the editorial staffs of all great dailies, but the pub- 
lic understands them to be hired men who no longer 
express honest judgments and sincere conviction, 
who write what they are told to write, and whose 
judgments are salaried. 

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346 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

To the subserviency of the press to special inter- 
ests in no small degree is due the power and in- 
fluence and prosperity of the weekly and monthly 
magazines. A decade ago young men trained in 
journalism came to see this control of the news- 
papers of the country. They saw also an unoccupied 
field. And they went out and built up great period- 
icals and magazines. They were free. 

Their pages were open to publicists and scholars, 
and liberty and justice and equal rights found a 
free press beyond the reach of the corrupt influence 
of consolidated business and machine politics. We 
entered upon a new era. 

Rise of the Periodical 

The periodical, reduced in price, attractive and 
artistic in dress, strode like a young giant into the 
arena of public service. Filled with this spirit, 
quickened with human interest, it assailed social 
and political evils in high places and low. It found 
the power of the public-service corporation and the 
evil influences of money in the municipal govern- 
ment of every large city. It found franchises worth 
millions of dollars secured by bribery; police in 
partnership with thieves and crooks and prostitutes. 
It found juries "fixed" and an established business 
plying its trade between litigants and the back door 
of blinking justice. 

What Publicity Revealed 

It -found Philadelphia giving away franchises, 
franchises not supposedly or estimated to be worth 
$2,500,000 but for which she had been openly offered 
and refused $2,500,000. Milwaukee they found giv- 

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The Press and the Public 347 

ing away street-car franchises worth $8,ooo,cxx) 
against the protests of her indignant citizens. It 
found Chicago robbed in tax-payments of immense 
value by corporate owners of property through 
fraud and forgery on a gigantic scale; it found the 
aldermen of St. Louis organized to boodle the city 
with a criminal compact, on file in the dark corner 
of a safety deposit vault. 

The free and independent periodical turned her 
searchlight oh state legislatures, and made plain as 
the sun at noonday the absolute control of the cor- 
rupt lobby. She opened the closed doors of the se- 
cret caucus, the secret committee, the secret confer- 
ence, behind which United States Senators and 
Members of Congress betrayed the public interest 
into the hands of railroads, the trusts, the tariff 
mongers, and the centralized banking powers of the 
country. She revealed the same influences back of 
judicial and other appointments. She took the pub- 
lic through the great steel plants and into the homes 
of the men who toil twelve hours a day and seven 
days in the week. And the public heard their cry 
df despair. She turned her camera into the mills 
and shops where little children are robbed of every 
chance of life that nourishes vigorous bodies and 
sound minds, and the pinched faces and dwarfed 
figures told their pathetic story on her clean white 

How the Press is Controlled 

The control of the newspaper press is not the 
simple and expensive one of ownership and invest- 
ment. There is here and there a "kept sheet" owned 
by a man of great wealth to further his own inter- 

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34.8 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

est. But the papers of this class are few. The con- 
trol comes through that community of interests, that 
interdependence of investments and credits which 
ties the publisher up to the banks, the advertisers 
and the special interests. 

We may expect this same kind of control, sooner 
or later, to reach out for the magazines. But more 
than this: I warn you of a subtle new peril, the 
centralization of advertising, that will in time seek 
to gag you. What has occurred on the small scale 
in almost every city in the country will extend to 
the national scale, and will ere long close in on the 
magazines. No men ever faced graver responsibili- 
tie3. None have ever been called to a more unsel- 
fish, patriotic service. I believe that when the final 
test comes, you will not be found wanting; you 
will not desert and leaye the people to depend upon 
the public platform alone, but you will hold aloft 
the lamp of Truth, lighting the way for the preser- 
vation of representative government and the liberty 
of the American people. 

Speech at Annual Banquet of Periodical 
Publishers' Association, Philadelphia, • 
February 2, 1912. 

The Subsidized Press 

The setting up of a new, invisible and all power- 
ful government in this country, within the last 
twenty years, in open violation of fundamental and 
statutory law, could not have been accomplished 
under the steady fire of a free and independent 

Where public opinion is free and uncontrolled, 
wealth has a wholesome respect for law. 

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The Press and the Public 349 

Except for the subserviency of most of the metro- 
poHtan newspapers, the great corporate interests 
would never have ventured upon the impudent, law- 
less consolidation of business, for the suppression 
of competition, the control of production, markets 
and prices. 

Except for this monstrous crime, 65 per cent of 
all the wealth of this country would not now be 
centralized in the hands of two per cent of all the 
people. And we might today be industrially and 
commercially a free people, enjoying the blessings 
of a real democracy. 

La Follette's Magazine, April, 19 18. 

The Famous St. Paul Speech 

Senator La Follette was widely quoted in the 
press as having said in a speech at St. Paul, Minne- 
sota, September 20, 1917, that the United States had 
no grievances against Germany. At the request of 
the Minnesota commission of public safety an in- 
vestigation of the charge was made by the senate 
and the matter finally dropped when the Associated 
Press admitted it had incorrectly quoted him. 

What he actually said is shown by the duly certi- 
fied transcript of the official stenographer who re- 
ported the speech for the Nonpartisan League. 
What the press reported him as having said is 
shown by the quotations from a few papers which 
are typical of hundreds of others. 

The Chicago Daily Tribune of September 21st 
last quoted Senator La Follette as saying : 

•T wasn't in favor of beginning this war. We had 
no grievance." 

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350 La FoUette'8 Political Philosophy 

The Washington Post of September 22nd : 

"I wasn't in favor of beginning this war. We had 
no grievance." 

The New York Times, September 22nd: 

"I was not in favor of beginning this war. We 
had no grievance." 

Finally the Literary Digest for October 6, 191 7, 
nearly a month after the speech was made, purports 
to gather up the comment of the papers throughout 
the country, and says that as reported in the press 
despatches. Senator La Follette said: 

"I was not in favor of beginning this war. We 
had no grievance." 

What was actually said by Senator La Follette 
as shown by the official certified transcript of his 
speech above referred to was: 

"For my own part I was not in favor pf begin- 
ning the war. I don't mean to say that we hadn't 
suffered grievances; we had at the hands of Ger- 
many, serious grievances." 

La Follette's Magazine, November, 1917. 

Retraction by Associated Press 

The resolutions were referred to the committee 
on privileges and elections of the senate and by it 
they were referred to a sub-committee to investi- 
gate the accuracy of the report of the speech, the 
accuracy of the statements made in such speech and 
to report its findings to the full committee the first 
day of the next regular session in December, 1917. 
The sub-committee did not make any report to the 
full committee as provided in the resolution with ref- 
erence to it. 

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The Press and the Public 351 

Recently Gilbert E. Roe representing Senator 
La Follette appeared before the committee and 
asked for a dismissal of the proceedings, and in the 
course of his argument referred to the erroneous 
report of the speech as published in the newspapers. 
Thereupon the Associated Press published a retrac- 
tion of its erroneous report, and said: 

"The error was regrettable and the Associated 
Press seized the first opportunity to do justice to 
Senator La Follette." 

Upon this retraction the New York Evening Post 
made the following editorial comment : 

"The Associated Press has handsomely and 
promptly admitted its grievous fault in misreport- 
ing Senator La Follette. Whereas he said in his 
St. Paul speech that 'we had grievances' against 
Germany, and was so reported the next day in the 
St. Paul newspapers, some one slipped the fatal 
word 'no' into the sentence in the Associated Press 
report and made it read: 'We had no grievances.' 
Whether this was done maliciously or accidentally 
will probably never be known, but the fact remains 
that irreparable injury was done to the senator, and 
that a large part of the outcry against him was due 
to this misstatement in the one thousand news- 
papers which are served by the Associated Press. 
Senator La Follette declared at the time that the 
press had misquoted him, but the matter was never 
brought to the attention of the Associated Press 
until Mr. Gilbert E. Roe, his attorney, stated the 
fact before the senate committee of inquiry on Tues- 
day. Why the senator delayed so long is a mys- 
tery ; but the serious wrong done by this error needs 

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352 La Follette*8 Political Philosophy 

no expatiating. No amount of apology can undo it. 
The thought that unintentionally so extreme an in- 
justice may be done to a public man is one to sober 
all responsible journalism." 

Why the senator delayed so long in denying the 
false report should be no mystery because the sena- 
tor did not delay such denial. He immediately 
publicly denied the correctness of the report of his 
speech, but the newspapers continued for months 
afterward to use the false report as a text upon 
which to base arguments condemning the senator 
and creating public sentiment against him. The 
senator had ho adequate opportunity to give to the 
public the truth of the matter. The press was not 
open to him for that purpose. As the New York 
Evening Post says : "The thought that unintention- 
ally so extreme an injustice may be done a public 
man is one to sober all responsible journalism." 
La Fallette's Magazine, June, 1918. 

How the Press May be Russianized 

Power vested anywhere in any office or court is 
always sooner or later abused ; and here is a power 
the abuse of which is easy. Given an unscrupulous 
administration, or an honest one under the pres- 
sure of troublous times,, and the law contended for 
in the Pulitzer and Smith cases lends it«df to a 
press censorship ' as galling and ruinous to liberty 
as that' of Russia. It may be that we have n^vier 
had an administration capable of so using it; but 
he would be a bold man who would assert it. The 
publication of an accusation is always the more 
perilous as it is more grave. The adftiinistration? 

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The Press and the Public 353 

therefore, seeking to silence criticism by this new 
law, or this new application of an old law, would 
be safer in committing heinous crimes than in fall- 
ing into slight errors. For the editor who might 
dare to call public attention to a merely question- 
able transaction at Washington, would not venture 
life and liberty so far as to allege a crime, no matter 
how clear the proof. His peril would be too great. 
Thus the press would be rendered most timid in 
those very exigencies in which the public safety 
calls for the most fearless denunciation. 

Is the supposed case fanciful ? Not at all. In the 
life of every nation come the crises when power of 
this sort is sure to be abused. The time to make 
the stand against it is now. The beginning of evil 
is like the letting out of water ; and eternal vigilance 
is the price of liberty. 

La Follette's Magazine, March 20, 1909. 

Mission of a Magazine 

La Follette's will be a magazine of progress, so- 
cial, intellectual, institutional. Moreover, it will be 
progressive in the more distinctly political sense. 
It is founded in the belief that it can aid in making 
our government represent with more fidelity the 
will of the people. 

This magazine recognizes as its chief task that of 
aiding in winning back for the people the complete 
power over government, — national, state and mu- 
nicipal, — which has been lost to them by the en- 
croachments of party machines, corporate and unin- 
corporated monopolies, and by the rapid growth of 
immense populations. 

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354 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

La Follette's will speak the truth. No eminence 
of position in party or government shall protect a 
servant of the people from deserved criticism; and 
its approval will be gladly given to all who com- 
mend themselves to it by brave and right action in 
any party or place. 

Men and measures are both important. This 
magazine will discuss measures and political parties 
and policies impartially and fearlessly. It will not 
shrink from making estimates of men and will from 
time to time call the roll in order to disclose the 
exact position of those who are true and those who 
are false to public interest. 

It is not enough to overthrow the political power 
of special interests. In the struggle for self-gov- 
ernment throughout the nation every progressive 
movement will be critically observed and supported 
on merit. Constructive legislation wherever enacted 
will ht so discussed as to give an intelligent con- 
ception of the actual progress made in the su- 
premely difficult task of embodying progressive 
ideas and ideals in laws and institutions. We hope 
to be useful in constructive work, as well as in de- 
structive criticism. We aim to be practical in our 
suggestions. We shall be just to every interest. 
Property rights are safe. The constitution guaran- 
tees security — a security which unanimous public 
opinion in America approves and supports. 

We shall make mistakes. We assert no claim to 
infallibility. It is not expected that our readers 
will agree with all we have to say. But the co- 

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The Press and the Public 355 

operation necessary to permanent progress can be 
secured only through intelligent discussion. We 
hope that this magazine may help to stimulate dis- 
cussion and thought to the end that out of it shall 
come better things into the life of this nation. 
First Editorial La Follette's Magazine, 

January 9, 1909. 

Fooling the People 

People who are here this afternoon may think 
that the press of the country cannot fool them. 
They may read what they know is a lie tonight in 
the papers. They read it repeated tomorrow and 
the next and the next day, and they say to their 
families that there is nothing in it. That thing is 
repeated time after time, day after day, it may be 
when they see it in some special article elaborately 
set up and illustrated, but finally it steals in upon 
the judgment of the people. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, Aug, 29, 1919. 

Surrender of the Magazines 

If you will study the editorial pages of newspa- 
pers through the years, beginning a little more than 
20 years ago, you will find the trail of the serpent 
that has control of the great newspapers of the 
country. * * * 

I spoke over at Philadelphia in 1912, and I warned 
the magazine publishers that the day was at hand 
when they, one after another, would be confronted 
with the necessity of yielding to this mighty power 
and ceasing the publication of articles of criticism 

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356 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

against the great industrial and commercial organ- 
izations in this country or they would be denied ad- 
vertising and forced to the wall. 

Mr. President, I stand here this afternoon to say 
that one after another of those magazines has suc- 
cumbed to that influence. I stand here to say that 
it is impossible to secure the publication in those 
magazines today of articles denouncing this viola- 
tion of law, this encroachment upon the liberties of 
the people, this overlordshrp that controls our in- 
dustrial and commercial life. I say there is not one 
of these great periodicals, excepting four or five that 
I could number on one hand, left today the control 
of which has not been acquired by the special inter- 
ests, the Standard Oil or like organizations. One 
after another of these magazines, periodicals, and 
publications has surrendered to that mighty power. 
There are only a few publications that reach, in all 
probability, more than 150,000 to 200,000 subscrib- 
ers — which means probably not more than a million 
readers in the United States — that absolutely are 
free to publish criticism. That is the truth, and it 
is a terrible commentary on our. Government. 
Speech in U, S. Senate, Aug. Tig, 1919. 

On Public Opinion 

Sir, I respect public opinion. I do not fear it. I 
do not hold it in contempt. The public judgment of 
this great country forms slowly. It is intelligent. 
No body of men in this country is superior to it. In 
a representative democracy the common judgment 
of the majority must find expression in the law of 

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The Press and the Public 357 

the land. To deny this is to repudiate the principles 
upon which representative democracy is founded. 

It is not prejudice nor clamor which is pressing 
this subject upon the attention of this body. It is 
a calm, well-considered public judgment. It is bom 
of conviction — not passion — ^and it were wise for 
us to give it heed. 

The public has reasoned out its case. For more 
than a generation of time it has wrought upon this 
great question with heart and brain in its daily con- 
tact with the great railway corporations. It has 
mastered all the facts. It is just. It is honest. It 
is rational. It respects property rights. It well 
knows that its own industrial and commercial pros- 
perity would suffer and decline if the railroads were 
wronged, their capital impaired, their profits un- 
justly diminished. 

But the public refuses longer to recognize this 
subject as one which the railroads alone have the 
right to pass upon. It declines longer to approach 
it with awe. It no longer regards the railroad 
schedule as a mystery. It understands the meaning 
of rebates and "concession," the evasions through 
"purchasing agents" and false weights, the subter- 
fuge of "damage claims," the significance of "switch- 
ing charges," "midnight tariffs," "milling in transit," 
"tap-line allowances," "underbilling," and "demur- 
rage charges." It comprehends the device known 
as the "industrial railway," the "terminal railway," 
and all the tricks of inside companies, each levying 
tribute upon the traffic. It is quite familiar with the 
favoritism given to express companies, and knows 

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358 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

exactly how producer and consumer have been 
handed over by the railroads, to be plundered by 
private car and refrigerator lin^s, in exchange for 
their traffic. 

Because it is a natural monopoly, because it is the 
creature of government, it becomes the duty of gov- 
ernment to see to it that the railway company in- 
flicts no wrong upon the public, to compel it to do 
what is right, and to perform its office as a common 

Sir, it is much easier to stand with these great 
interests than against them. This was true when 
Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations, and it 
is true in 1906. 

Mr. President, I contend here, as I have contended 
upon the public platform in Wisconsin, and in 
other States, that the history of the last thirty years 
of struggle for just and equitable legislation dem- 
onstrates that the powerful combinations of organ- 
ized wealth and special interests have had an over- 
balancing control in state and national legislation. 

For a generation the American people have watched 
the growth of this power in legislation. They 
observe how vast and far-reaching these modern 
business methods are in fact. Against the natural 
laws of trade and commerce is set the arbitrary will 
of a few masters of special privilege. The principal 
transportation lines of the country are so operated 
as to eliminate competition. Between railroads and 
other monopolies controlling great natural resources 
and most of the necessaries of life there exists a 
"community of interests" in all cases and an identity 

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The Press and the Public 359 

of ownership in many. • They have observed that 
these great combinations are closely associated in 
business for business reasons;- that they are also 
closely associated in politics for business reasons; 
that together they constitute a complete system; 
that they encroach upon the public rights, defeat 
legislation for the public good, and secure laws to 
promote private interests. 

Speech in C7. 5. Senate, April 19, 1906. 

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Tribute to Albert R. Hall 

j I RIENDS : I have been requested to say 

( ^ a word respecting the life and char- 

j b acter of our friend. All over this state 

j A today, in the homes throughout a 

sister state, in many throughout this 
imion, to whose attention the work of Mr. Hall in 
public life had been attracted, there are sad hearts 
and bowed heads. We are gathered here to pay a 
last tribute to a great man whose life has been so 
simple, so modest, whose demeanor has been so 
humble that many of us perhaps have not been 
truly conscious of the greatness of his character. 
But into the history of this state and into the lives 
of its people there have come a new significance and 
a new meaning, high standards, better thoughts, 
better living, greater devotion to public interests 
than would have been known except for the life of 
Mr. Hall. 

It is not easy to paint a portrait. It is much 
easier and requires a much lower order of ability 
to make a caricature. I know that he would have 
no friend of his say one word in exaggeration of his 
work and his life. But knowing him somewhat 
intimately since he has been in the public service of 
the state, I do not feel that it would be within my 
power to draw too strongly, to utter with any too 
great degree of emphasis expressions of praise on 
his life and public service. 

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Miscellaneous 361 

He was a man of splendid courage; he feared 
nothing except to do wrong. In his heart he bore 
malice against none. I have seen him silent, his 
face quivering and working under the sting of un- 
just criticism, but I never heard from his lips an 
unkind word with reference to those who did not 
agree with him. I do not believe that Albert R. 
Hall* ever consciously in his life did a wrong. He 
may have made mistakes, and who has not? He 
never took an advantage; he never worked in the 
dark ; he stood out boldly before all men for what he 
believed was for the best interest of the public. 

A life like his does not terminate with death. It 
lives on and on through the generations. In the 
higher ideals which he has established in this state, 
in the better regard for public rights which he has 
made plain as a public duty for all men, in right 
conduct with individuals in the community where 
he lived, in all his relations with all of his fellow- 
men, he has so impressed himself upon the day and 
hour of his time that his life should live and go on 
in the perfected life of the friends who knew him 
and have been made better by his presence. 

We can take some little comfort in the thought 
that life has not been interrupted, that his great 
character is still working out the purposes of a 
higher and better life, and as we separate today, 
after performing the last sad duties, we can say to 
our friend "farewell but not forgotten." He will 
live in the lives of each of us while we are spared. 
At Funeral of A, R, Hall, Knapp, Wisconsin, 

June 4, 1905. 

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362 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Advance Toward Higher Civilization 

Gentlemen, the day of your admission to that 
profession which honors every man who honors it, 
is a day of royal triumph for you — but it is not a 
day of triumph for you alone. We all have a share 
in it. From the gilded home of the millionaire in 
the North, to the meanest hut in the rice swamps 
of the South, every man and woman in the land 
owns an interest in this event. 

We are one people, one by truth, one almost by 
blood. Our lives run side by side. Our ashes rest 
in the same soil. The social order wraps us about 
altogether as the atmosphere envelops the earth. 
Each of us draws from it that which nourishes in- 
tellectual and spiritual life. Each one consciously 
or unconsciously gives back something of himself, 
clean or unclean, nourishing or poisonous to that 
social organization. It is snobbish stupidity, it is 
supreme folly, to talk of non-contact, or exclusion ! 
Recognize it or not, it is a homogeneous mass, and 
each element is vitally interested in every other. 

You stand upon the rim of an ever-expanding 
horizon. The morning breaks. Before you lies the 
waiting world of opportunity — behind you the long 
night of degradation, of ignominy, of human slavery. 
At your back stands a quick, responsive, capable, 
willing race, panting to be led to a higher civili- 
zation — ahfove and beyond you the angel of human 
progress beckons you on and on. A new century 
is bursting upon you. There never was such an op- 
poirtunity for leadership in the history of the hu- 

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Miscellaneous 363 

man race. You are equipped for the mighty con- 
test. Go to your work. 

.Address to Howard University Law Class, 1888. 

On Transplanted Foreign Culture 

Journeying across Wisconsin in any direction, one 
passes through cities and villages, counties and 
townships, changed, from unbroken prairies and 
vast forests, to thickly populated districts with beau- 
tiful homes, rich farms and great factories, by the 
hardy, courageous, but patient, industry of the Ger- 
man pioneer. 

In that hour, fortunate for us, when emigration 
from the fatherland was at its full tide, the condi- 
tions invited most strongly toward this young com- 
monwealth. Its productive soil, its low priced lands, 
its lakes and streams and forests, its climate, its 
liberal spirit, attracted alike the idealist, who dreamed 
of a German state within the Union, and the 
sturdy, practical homeseeker, who left his father- 
land in- the hope of larger opportunity in a new 

Their industry, thrift, prudence and unyielding 
perseverance underlie much of our material devel- 
opment. Their native directness and honesty of 
thought, their resolute maintenance of right and 
justice and good order in every community have 
stamped their character upon the citizenship of our 
commonwealth. To this keen, eager, restless, com- 
mercial spirit of the Yankee, they have contributed 
calmness, repose, conservatism, a philosophic judg- 
mentj and a wise appreciation of the beneficence of 
leigure. We have become one people. Our lives 

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364 La FoUctte's Political Philosophy 

run side by side ; their living streams commingle ; 
our ashes rest in the same soil. 

No race of men has more enriched the artistic 
life of the world than the German. Into this new 
commonwealth they brought their native endow- 
ment of artistic temperament — a good leaven to our 
somewhat ascetic Puritan character. 

As inherent as the love of music and flowers and 
children, is the German's love of home, his respect 
for law, his loyalty to country. Had they not been 
for generations imbued with patriotism and undying 
affection for the fatherland, they could not in na- 
ture have so soon become loyal American citizens ; 
they would not have sustained, as they did with 
blood and treasure, this government in its darkest 
hour; they would not have proved such a bulwark 
of law-abiding sentiment for state and nation. The 
German-American's love for his native land, its 
heroic past, its majestic presence, its language, its 
traditions, its literature, its song, serves only to 
foster those elements of character which intensify 
his allegiance, his loyalty, his devotion to the land 
of his adoption. 

Address Welcoming Prince Henry, 
Milwaukee, March 4, 1902. 

Welcome to Catholic Order of Foresters 

I congratulate you upon this large gathering and 
the good work in which you are engaged. The 
foundation sentiment of your order appeals to the 
right side of human nature. Your ministration is 
that of helpfulness. You are not organized for in- 
vestment or profit or gain, but for mutual benefit. 

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Miscellaneous 365 

Yours is a benevolent order; You are bound to- 
gether to relieve the sick and distressed, to comfort 
and sustain the widow, and to open the door of 
opportunity to the orphan. In the time of greatest 
trial, in the darkest hour of life, your word of good 
cheer is heard across the open grave, and the warm 
grasp of your fraternal hand takes away something 
of the chill of death. 

I believe in this and other orders because. they are 
American institutions, democratic in character. 
Every man is upon a level with every other man. 
Each bears his just share of the burden and re- 
ceives his proportionate share of the benefits. The 
lessons which you teach are the lessons of equal 
rights for all; equal duties, equal responsibilities, 
equal privileges and equal voice. These are the 
foundation principles upon which the fathers es- 
tablished this government, and every organization 
such as I see before me here tonight is essentially 
democratic. It typifies representative government. 
It is a little republic and is a foundation of inspira- 
tion for patriotic citizenship. 

Welcome to Catholic Foresters, June 11, 1901. 

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition 

Pity, indeed, the narrow soul which does not go 
out today in reverence to that tomb at Monticello 
where rest the ashes of him who framed the act of 
original inherent sovereignty, adopted by the peo- 
ple, — declaring that all men are created equal and that 
government must derive its just powers from the 
consent of the governed. Through his statesman- 
ship we acquired half a continent within which that 

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366 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

government might expz^nd. He gave to higher edu- 
cation the first state university in America, dedicat- 
ing it forever to freedom with this as its motto : 

"And ye shall know the truth, arid the truth shall 
make you free." 

He and his compatriots were not the product of 
the eighteenth century any more than was their 
work for their day and generation alone. They 
were in God's plan for the liberty of the human race 
centuries before. When the declaration of inde- 
pendence was given to the world, it spoke for the 
great silent majority whose lives had been laid 
upon the altar of liberty through all the ages. It 
spoke for the millions yet unborn, whose precious 
heritage is American democracy. 

And this great exposition of the progress and 
power of the nations of the world shall exert its 
liberalizing influence on all mankind, inspire mu- 
tual, confidence and respect among established gov- 
ernments, quicken thought, stimulate endeavor, and 
promote peace and happiness. It shall do more 
than that. It shall bring the people of this country 
together in commemoration of great events in its 
history, charged with patriotic significance to every 
citizen of the republic. 

Speech cannot express the indebtedness of the 
people of this nation to you- who have wrought out 
jn harmony the greatest work of its kind yet ac- 
complished by man. Every worthy citizen should 
count it a -great privilege and a patriotic duty to 
testify his appreciation by personally participating 
in this memorable event. No one can come here 

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Miscellaneous 367 

and not feel impelled to carry this message back to 
his neighbors and friends. 

From a profound heart we thank you for the op- 
portunity to come and the welcome we have re- 
ceived. We pledge you the most cordial support 
of the state of Wisconsin. 

Speech at Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 

St, Louis, 1904. 

Not Influenced by Personal Abuse 

I concede that, Mr. President. I have a habit 
which perhaps is not a matter of interest and I 
ought not to detain the senate to mention it — when 
I am speaking I see the face of every senator and 
every change of expression just as in practicing 
law I saw the face of every juryman, and used to 
think that I knew what was passing in the mind of 
each juror. It is a fault. Let that pass. 

Mr. President, I return now to say that a great 
subject is before the senate. It is one that strikes 
deep down into the lives and the homes and will 
profoundly affect the prosperity and the happiness 
of all the people of this country. It does not affect 
merely manufacturers. It does not affect merely 
the people who work for the manufacturers and 
their interests. It ought to be weighed with very 
great care. I do not mean to say that the interests 
of the manufacturers and those who have invested 
their capital are not entitled to be weighed with as 
great care; but those who work for wages are en- 
titled to have their interests carefully considered 
as well. 

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368 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

Mr. President, this bill will bear upon the people 
of this whole country — ninety millions of them — 
either fairly or unfairly, justly or unjustly. I tell you 
it is of tremendous consequence what we do here 
each day. We pass a paragraph or a schedule, and 
it is driven in on me all the while that we do not 
know just how our action is going to affect the 
people of our country. We do not know how much 
that is going to take out of the earnings or savings 
of this family or that family, and we ought to know. 

The formation of public opinion is of tremendous 
importance in framing legislation. 

Nothing ought to have a place in the debate upon 
this great measure except that which is germane to 
the bill. The issue involved should not be obscured 
by any personal controversy. It shall not be so ob- 
scured with my sanction. 

Mr. President, it is one of the least concerns of 
my life how votes shall be cast in an election in so 
far as it affects me. I never have in my public life 
taken the easier pathway. I could have done so. I 
never have. What I am saying today is said from 
a deep conviction. 

I have given fifteen years out of the best of my 
life to a great struggle in my state. I became deeply 
interested in certain things that seemed to me to 
go to the very foundation of this government. That 
interest possessed me; it took me out of my pro- 
fession; it put me into a contest in Wisconsin to 
establish in that commonwealth, first of all, if pos- 
sible, a government by the people and for the 

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Miscellaneous 369 

Mr. President, I would not be provincial ; I would 
hot be boastful; but something has been accom- 
plished in Wisconsin that draws to it the leading 
students of government from every state in this 
union. From every great university, from the eco- 
nomic departments of the great universities of Eu- 
rope, they have come to the capital of Wisconsin 
to Study the legislation of that state, especially 
concerning the government of corporations in their 
relation to the life of the people. 

Principle Placed Before Individual 

Mr. President, at every step in that long fight I 
was subjected to personal attacks of the most vir- 
ulent kind — misrepresenting my character, attempt- 
ing to destroy it, assailing my motives, lying about 
everything I did and everything I did not. But, 
sir, I early marked out a course for myself. I said : 
"If I permit myself to be drawn aside to answer 
personal attacks, this great struggle to bring gov- 
ernment back to the people will be degraded to a 
petty personal issue." I turned neither to the right 
hand nor to the left. When assailed and misrepre- 
sented, my answer was: "The corporations in the 
state of Wisconsin are not paying their share of the 
taxes.*' To every personal charge I made one an- 
swer : "The public-service corporations shall not con- 
trol in legislation. They shall serve the public im- 
partially, and render services at reasonable rates." 

So in respect to every assault made upon me, Mr. 
President^ my answer was the great issue. As an 
individual I was insignificant, of little consequence. 
If I did anything for the state, in which I was bom 

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370 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

and live, it was simply as an humble instrument 
for the right settlement of the great issues over 
which we have, sir, so little control in our day and 
generation. We do not, we cannot, make the is- 
sues. . Great ideas thrust themselves into the arena ; 
they are antagonistic ; one is right and one is wrong ; 
and as the contest goes on the men who are drawn 
into that contest are but the instruments in those 
great ideas of evolution in the progress of the race. 

Mr. President, does anybody suppose that I am 
to turn aside in this debate to answer some petty 
and contemptible attack upon me personally? No. 
The senate was occupied yesterday for five hours, 
at least, in the discussion of the cotton schedule. 
Certain facts were laid before this body. I may be 
wrong about it, but, in my judgment, they were 
important facts. An evening session followed. 
Some sensationalism developed in that evening ses- 
sion, and it claimed a space in the newspapers re- 
porting yesterday's proceedings of congress to the 
exclusion of the debate upon the bill. So today, Mr. 
President, that might be repeated if personal con- 
troversy were again intruded into this discussion. 
It shall not occur with my consent. 

As to the remarks of the senator from Pennsyl- 
vania (Mr. Penrose) last evening, Mr. President, the 
public is not greatly interested in individual Sena- 
tors and how they spend their time when away from 
the senate chamber. The people of Wisconsin will 
take care of me if I am an unfaithful servant with- 
out prompting from any senator upon this floor. 
I would suggest that he would render a more im- 
portant service to the country and to the state of 

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Miscellaneous 371 

Pennsylvania, were he to account for the way he 
spends his time when absent from this body; than 
in any effort to make any Jtccount of mine. . 
' I tiiight add, Mr. President, that no man could 
undertake to account for the whereabouts of the 
senator from Pennsylvania when absent from this 
body without transgressing the rules of the seriate, 
and that I do riot purpose to do in this debate. 

Speech on Tariff, [/. S. Senate, June 3, 1909. 

; Appreciation of a Fellow Fighter 

One morning in December, 1909, there came into 
my office in the Capitol Building, a tall, bony, slightly 
stooped man, with a face bespeaking superior in- 
telligence and lofty character. It was Andrew Fur- 

He wanted tb interest me iri the cause of the 
American sailor. He was a sailor himself, he said, 
and he wanted to "be free." I did not know what 
he meant. I questioned him. Surely there were no 
slaves under the American flag. Bondsmen there 
were, — ^but Lincoln changed all that. And it had 
been written in the amended Constitution. "Yes," 
he said, "but not for the sailor. All other men are 
free. But when the amendments were. framed, they 
passed us by. The sailor was forgotten." 

I asked him to tell me about it. Sitting on the 
edge of the chair, his body thrust forward, a great 
soul speaking through his face, the set purpose of 
his life shining in his eyes, he told me the story of 
the sailor's wrongs. He said little of himself, ex- 
cepting as I drew him on to speak of the long, long 
struggle of which he was the beginning, and is now 

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372 La PoUette's Political Philosophy 

finally the end. He spoke with a strong Scandina- 
vian accent, but with remarkable facility of expres- 
sion, force and discrimination. 

He knew the maritime law of every country ; the 
social conditions, the wage level, the economic life 
of every sea-faring nation. He w^s master of his 
subject. His mind worked with the precision of a 
Corliss engine. He was logical, rugged, terse, 
quaint, and fervid with conviction. 

Born in Norway, the call of the sea came to him 
as a lad of sixteen. He stood upon the cliffs and 
looked out upon the infinite. The life of the sailor, 
like the ocean, must be wide and free. He felt its 
mysterious spell. He would be a "free seaman," 
with all the world an open door. New thoughts 
were stirring within him. He sailed away, thrilled 
with the idea that his was to be a free man's work. 

His dream was shattered early by the hard real- 
ities of life before the mast. First in the boats of 
Norway and later on the decks of the merchant 
marine of every great maritime nation he served as 
a seaman, and everywhere conditions were the 
same. He found himself a common chattel! He 
was owned by the master of the ship! 

In all the years of this historic struggle for hu- 
man liberty, which finally culminated with Presi- 
dent Wilson's signing of the Seamen's Law, March 
4, 191 5, Andrew Furuseth was the one man who had 
the faith, the vision and the courage necessary to 
sustain the contest. He launched the movement. 
He kept it afloat. Every moment of the twenty-one 
years he was at the helm. Through legislative 
storms and calms, over the sunken reefs of privi* 

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Miscellaneous 373 

lege, across every treacherous shoal and past all 
dangers, he held his cause true to its course and 
brought it safely into port. Yet in all those long, 
disheartening years he has so effaced himself and 
lived his cause, that the public has had little oppor- 
tunity to know the man. When history forgets 
many who now fill the public eye, with all who 
know the story of the sea he will be a great out- 
standing figure, from whose life others will gather 
hope and courage and inspiration to fight on and on 
to better living conditions and wider freedom. 

Furuseth has done a great work. He has not ac- 
quired a monopoly of light, heat, or power. He has 
not endowed false educational foundations with 
money wrongfully extorted from an overpatient 
public. But he has won freedom for the American 
sailor, and made our country an asylum and a ref- 
uge for the oppressed seamen of the world. The 
gratitude of hundreds of thousands of human be- 
ings of this and future generations will accredit 
their liberty to his genius and devotion. 

After the bill was signed by the president, in con- 
versation with Furuseth one day, I touched upon 
his future. "When you can no longer work, what 
provision have you for old age?'* I asked. "How 
much have you been able to lay up against failing 
power?" His keen eye mellowed, and a placid con- 
templative expression smoothed out the seams of 
his weather beaten face as he said, "When my work 
is finished, I hope to be finished. I have no provi- 
sion against old age; and I shall borrow no fears 
from time." 

La Follette's Magazine, April, 1915. 

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374 La FoUcttc's Political Philosophy 

Poverty in the United States 

Prof. E. A. Ross, of the University of Wisconsin, 
in a book published in May, 1918, has drawn for us 
a moderate but clear and brief statement of indus- 
trial conditions in this country, which it would be 
well for the Secretary of the Treasury and officials 
Qt this administration generally to study. Prof. 
Ross' book is entitled "Russia in Upheaval." Prof. 
Ross has been for many years a professor of soci- 
ology at the University of Wisconsin, and is the 
author of a number of standard works dealing with 
sociology and with history. 

Let me say that Prof. King just before his death, 
which occurred a few years ago, published a work 
on the distribution of wealth. Prof. King was rec- 
ognized among the statisticians and students of sqt 
ciology and of the economists in this country as a 
very eminent man in his particular field. He was a 
member of the faculty of the Wisconsin University 
when he died. 

Prof. Ross said — I quote from this work begin- 
ning at page 345 : 

" ;^*Let it not be supposed that the United States, 

with its qualified political democracy, will prove 

immune to anticapitalist agitation. The i;at(-XM 

our society is one of the most vulnerable, because 

we have clung so long to the law and politics^ of 

. an outworn individualism that th e. resulting rfi^^r 

"' tribution of wealth and of income would beg-re^ 

- tesque were it not so tragic. According to^tha 

investigations of Prof. King, a statistician of un* 

questioned skill and impartiality, 65 per cent of 

our people are poor ; that is, they have little or no 

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Miscellaneous 375 

- property, except their clothes and some cheap 
furniture, and their average annual income is less 
than $200 per capita." 

That is — let me emphasize that — 65 per cent of 
the people of the United States have nothing but 
their clothing and some cheap furniture and their 
average annual income is less than $200 a year per 

Thirty-three per cent of our people compose the 
middle class, in which each man leaves at death 
from one to forty thousand dollars worth of prop- 
erty. The remaining two per cent comprise the rich 
and very rich, who own almost one and one-half 
times as much as the other 98 per cent together. 

MR. KENYON. Mr. President— 

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Sena- 
tor from Wisconsin yield to the Senator from Iowa? 


MR. KENYON. The figures the Senator quotes 
from Prof. King are so startling that I should like 
to ask the Senator a question. Did the Senator say 
that, according to Prof. King, 65 per cent of our 
people have an income of less than $200 per year? 

MR. LA FOLLETTE. Per capita. 
. MR.. KENYON. That is, a man with a family of 
four would figure each one in the income? 

MR. LA FOLLETTE. Yes, sir. 

Mr. President, I submitted as a part of the mi- 
.nority report in 1917 on the revenue bill fixing 
war profits taxes these very figures quoted from 
Prof. King, and I discussed them on this floor. I 
cited them over and over again, and tried to make 
them as impressive as possible. We are asleep; we 

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376 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

treat as a joke the poverty of 65 per cent of the peo- 
ple of this country. Senators jibe and sneer and 
scoff and grin at the recital of these figures here 
tonight. You may, by pursuing that course long 
enough, invite into the Senate Chamber sometime 
or other a mob. 

Speech in U, S. Senate, March 1, 1919. 

Enlightening his Constituency 

It was clear to me that the only way to beat boss 
and ring rule was to keep the people thoroughly in- 
formed. Machine control is based upon misrepre- 
sentation and ignorance. Democracy is based upon 
knowledge. It is of first importance that the people 
shall know about their government and the work 
of their public servants. "Ye shall know the truth, 
and the truth shall make you free." This I have al- 
ways believed vital to self government. 

Immediately following my election to congress I 
worked out a complete plan for keeping my con- 
stituents informed on public issues and the record 
of my services in congress; it is the system I have 
used in constantly widening circles ever since. 

The task of building up and maintaining an in- 
telligent interest in public affairs in my district and 
afterward in the state, was no easy one. But it was 
the only way for me, and I am still convinced that 
it is the best way. Of one thing I am more and 
more convinced with the passage of the years — 
and that is, the serious interest of our people in 
government, and their willingness to give their 
thought to subjects which are really vital and upon 

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Miscellaneous 377 

which facts, not mere opinions, are set forth, even 
though the presentation may be forbidding. 

Autobiography, 1913. 

Where Some of the Salary Goes 

It is not generally known that congressional 
speeches, reprinted from the Record for distribu- 
tion, must be paid for by the congressman or senator 
ordering them at a cost equal to that of any first- 
class printing establishment. The size of the bills 
T paid the government printing office for many years 
was one of the reasons why I found myself so poor 
when I left congress. A congressman in those days 
received only five thousand dollars a year, and no 
secretarial or clerk hire whatever unless he chanced 
to be chairman of a committee. The result was that 
the bulk of the actual mechanical work of keeping 
up all this correspondence and pamphleteering fell 
upon Mrs. La Follette and myself. * * * 

Autobiography, 1913. 

On Answering Misrepresentations 

I paid no attention to its (The Milwaukee Sen- 
tinel) misrepresentations and personal attacks. But 
finally, about 1904, I began holding a copy of it up 
to my audiences, telling them just what it stood 
for and appealing to the people of Wisconsin to 
drive it out of their homes ; saying that the people 
ought to support only those papers that served the 
public ; that the papers that were organs of corpora- 
tions should depend upon the corporations for their 
support. And that is what the people of the coun- 
try ought to do today. They ought to support the 
newspapers and magazines that are serving their in- 

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378. La Pollctte's Political Philosophy 

terests. There must always be muckrakers as long 
as there are muckmakers, and the public owes it to 
itself to support those publications that stand for 
the public interest. It does not make any differ- 
ence what good news service the organs of the cor- 
porations offer, turn them out ; teach them that they 
can't prey upon the public and at the same time ap- 
peal to the public for support. 

This law (anti-lobby) rests upon the principle 
that legislation is public business and that the pub- 
lic has a right to know what arguments are pre- 
sented to members of the legislature to induce them 
to enact or defeat legislation, so that any citizen or 
body of citizens shall have opportunity, if they de- 
sire, to answer such arguments. 

Since I came to the United States senate I have 
steadfastly maintained the same position. Again 
and again I have protested against secret hearing 
before congressional committees upon the public 
business. I have protested against the business of 
congress being taken into a secret party caucus and 
there disposed of by party rule; I have asserted and 
maintained at all times my right as a public servant 
to discuss in open senate, and everywhere publicly, 
all legislative proceedings, whether originating in 
the executive sessions of committees or behind 
closed doors of caucus conferences. 

Autobiography, 191 3. 

Vacant Seats in the Senate 

Mr. President, I pause in my remarks to say this. 
I cannot be wholly indifferent to the fact that Sen- 
ators by their absence at this time indicate their 

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Miscellaneous 379 

want of interest in what I may have to say upon 
this subject. The public is interested. Unless this 
important question is rightly settled seats now tem- 
porarily vacant may be permanently vacated by 
those who have the right to occupy them at this 
tinier . 

Speech "Regulation of Railway Rates," Senator- - 
: - La Follette's First Speech in the U. S. 
r ; ; Senate, April 19^21, 1906. 

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Submitted by the Wisconsin delegation at the Republi- 
can National Convention in 1908, and rejected by the con- 

I HE Republican party has made progress 
toward a more effective control of the 
railroads engaged in interstate com- 
merce, but it recognizes that much re- 
^ mains to be done in the public interest. 
We favor enlarging the powers of the Interstate 
Commerce Commission, clothing it with authority 
to institute proceedings upon its own motion, to 
establish classification, and whenever a proposed in- 
crease in the rate is challenged by shipper or con- 
sumer to determine whether such increase shall be 

The problems submitted to the commission are so 
vast and complex and the demand for a better su- 
pervision of interstate commerce in the public in- 
terests so urgent, the work of the commission al- 
ready so burdensome, that it is manifestly absurd 
to expect seven men to discharge the duty which 
the Government owes to the people in exercising 
control over common carriers engaged in interstate 
commerce. In response to the demand for better 
supervision of railway services and railway rates 
we favor enlarging the working force of the com- 
mission, dividing the country into districts and pro- 
viding for commissions for each district and for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1908 381 

appeals from such sub-commissions to the Inter- 
state Commerce Commission at Washington. 

The existing laws provide that the rates shall be 
reasonable and that any unreasonable rates shall be 
unlawful, but they wholly fail to provide any means 
by which the Interstate Commerce Commission can 
ascertain what is a reasonable rate. To this ob- 
vious defect may be charged the unwarranted ad- 
vance made since the enactment of the law, and the 
increase recently announced by the railroads which 
will impose an additional burden of $100,000,000 a 
year upon the traffic affected. 

Public interest demands that this defect in the 
law shall be remedied at once. To determine a rea- 
sonable rate it is desirable that the commission 
should know the value of the physical property of 
the railway company, the cost of maintenance and 
operation of the railway, and the income derived 
from the business. The interstate commerce law 
provides for the ascertaining of the cost of main- 
tenance and the income derived from the business, 
but it fails to provide any means by which the 
commission can ascertain the value of the property 
of the railway company. The Interstate Commerce 
Commission has repeatedly urged upon Congress 
the importance of legislation to ascertain the value 
of the property and making the necessary provision 
tc enable the commission to perform the work in the 
public interest. We, therefore, favor the authoriza- 
tion of the Interstate Commerce Commission to as- 
certain the exact physical value of all the property 
of every railway company engaged in interstate 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

382 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

ctttltnerce, to the end that such valuation be made 
the basis of just and equal railway rates. 

The ;I^epMblic^n party proclaims its continued 
loyalty to the true principle of the protective, tariff 
pplicy ^s ;established by Alexander Hamilton and 
advocated by Clayj Blaine and McKinley. Under 
this true principle of protection such duties were 
imposed on imports as equaled the difference be- 
tween the cost of the production at home and 
abroad. From Hamilton to McKinley every great 
advocate pf protection contended that a tariff so 
levied would establish and maintain American in- 
dustries, and that free competition between pro- 
ducers would prevent monopoly and insure reason- 
able prices to all American consumers; Under this 
system so long as competition existed all x:lasses 
shared in the benefits derived from the protective 
policy. But a great change has come. Through 
combinations of corporations competition between 
protected interests has been suppressed and the pub- 
he compelled to pay prices dictated by monopoly. 
This condition is unjust, oppressive and intolerable: 

It calls for prompt and effective remedy. No tar- 
iflf and policy which contribute in any degree to 
place the control of prices and markets under the 
domination . of monopoly can be hiaintained. To 
correct these abuses and permit a protective tariff 
<systejni based upon this principle, we pledge the Re- 
publican party to, the immediate revision of the 
tariff by the imposition of such duties only as will 
equal the difference between. the cost of production 
at home and ^ibroad, and whenever the control pif 
ahy protected product by monopoly or the suppres- 


ized by Google 

Platform of 1908 383 

sion of competition by agreement between the pro- 
ducers of protected articles limits production and 
controls prices and wages the collection of duties 
upon the similar imported article shall be suspended 
and abolished and such articles admitted free of 
duty, except where the cost of labor in the domestic 
article exceeds that in the imported article, in which 
case such article shall be subject to a rate of duty 
equal only to the difference in the cost of labor in 
the domestic and the imported article, in which case 
such article shall be subject to a rate of duty equal 
only to the difference in the cost of labor in the 
domestic and the imported article. 

To ultimately place our tariff schedules upon a 
just, scientific and more equitable basis there must 
be a thorough and impartial investigation of the 
ever-changing conditions affecting labor, and the 
cost of production at home and abroad. For this 
purpose we favor the early establishment of a per- 
manent tariff commission, to be appointed by the 
President. Such commission to be composed of 
men from civil life who represent all sections of 
our country and who are specially equipped by 
training and experience for this important work. 

For twenty years in its national platforms the 
Republican party has opposed trusts and combina- 
tions whose purpose it is to prevent competition 
and restrain trade. In its platform of 1900 it says : 
''W« recognize the necessity and propriety of the 
co-operation of capital to meet new business condi 
tions, and especially to extend our rapidly increas- 
ing foreign trade, but we condemn all conspiracies 
ahd combinations intended to restrict business, to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

384 La FoUettc's Political Philosophy 

create monopolies, to limit production or to control 
prices, and we favor such legislation as will effec- 
tively restrain and prevent all such abuses and pro- 
mote competition and secure the rights of produc- 
ers, laborers and all who are engaged in industry 
and commerce." 

We declare that no additional legislation has 
been enacted, pursuant to that declaration. It is 
established upon the highest authority that trusts 
and combinations have within the last four years 
made the greatest growth for the centralized con- 
trol of business and the suppression of competition 
in the entire history of consolidation. The increase 
in trust capitalization and consolidation of indus- 
trials, franchises and transportation alone aggre- 
gates more than 55 per cent. This enormous growth 
in unlawful combinations places in jeopardy every 
independent industry in the land. It exercises con- 
trol over production and prices in manufactures, 
for service and rates in transportation. No political 
party loyal to the public interests can ignore this 
monstrous evil. 

The administration of President Roosevelt has 
in notable instances prosecuted such unlawful com- 
binations under the antitrust law of 1890, and no 
act of his Republican administration has been more 
highly commended by the public. But we believe 
that existing conditions demand- at this time more 
control than in 1900, and the enactment of such 
legislation as will effectively restrain and prevent 
all such abuses and promote and protect competi* 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1908 385 

The Republican party, represented in this Na- 
tional Convention, demands the most rigid enforce- 
ment of the existing law and the enactment of a 
statute prohibiting any individual, co-partnership, 
corporation or association from engaging in inter- 
state commerce whenever such co-partnership, in- 
dividual, corporation or association is a party to 
any agreement, understanding or contract for the 
suppression of competition, the control of prices 
and markets and the restraint of trade, and impos- 
ing imprisonment as a penalty for the violation of 
its provisions. We demand that Congress shall go 
to the full extent of its constitutional authority to 
give force and effect by statutory enactment to the 
declarations herein set forth. 

We strongly protest against any attempt, how- 
ever disguised, to weaken or destroy the Sherman 
Anti-Trust Law as applied to trusts and combina- 
tions organized to control production and prices, 
and we favor strengthening the law by providing 
imprisonment as the penalty for its violation and 
the strict enforcement of all of its provisions. The 
anti-trust law was not designed, as declared by its 
author or advocates in Congress when enacted, to 
apply to labor organizations, and we favor legisla- 
tion which Congress may enact within the Con- 
stitution to exempt trade unions from the statute. 

And the minority of said committee further re- 
spectfully submits and recommends the adoption 
of the following paragraph, to be added to the re- 
port of the majority of this committee : 

Publicity of campaign contributions and expendi- 
tures. Certain expenses are inseparable from the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

386 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

conduct of political campaigns, and these expendi- 
tures may be made by voluntary contributions from 
citizens devoted to the cause for which a candidate 
or a party stands. Experience has shown, however, 
that the largest contributions* are not made to 
further the cause, but in some special or personal 
reason corruptly to influence the nominations, plat- 
forms, administration and legislation. If those con- 
tributions were known they would be promptly con- 
demned by the public. The relation of them to 
subsequent favors sought in return would be rec- 
ognized and understood, and their purpose thwarted. 
Therefore we propose that the Republican Congress 
and President shall enact and enforce a law to re- 
quire those charged with the management of cam- 
paig^ns for the nomination or election of a President 
of the United States, Senator or Representative in 
Congress to publish at stated times during the cam- 
paign the name of each contributor and the amount 
contributed or promised by him — and the amounts 
and the purpose of such disbursement and the name 
of the person to whom paid. 

We pledge the Republican party to the enactment 
of a law to regulate the rates and services of tele- 
graph companies engaged in the transmission of 
messages between the states. 

We are unalterably opposed to ship subsidies and 
to granting privileges in any form to special inter- 
ests at the public expense. (Applause.) 
'We' pledge the Republican party to the enact- 
ment of a law to prbhibit the issuance of injunctions 
in cases arising out of labor disputes, and such in- 
junctions would n6t apply when any labor dispute 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1908 387 

exists, and providing that in no case shall injunctions 
be issued when there exists a remedy by the ordi- 
nary process of law. 

And whicj^. act shall provide that in the , procedure 
for pxxrkiAkment for contempt of court, the paorty 
cited for contempt shall be entitled to trial by jury, 
except when \such contempt was '. committed in 
the presence of , the court or so near the|*e,tp jas J^o Jr]^- 
terfere with the proper administration of justice., j 

We pledge the Republican party to the enactmerit 
of a law creating a Department of Labor separatie 
from existing departments, with a secretai'y at its 
head, having a seat in the Cabinet, and for the 
erection of a Bureau of Mines and Mining under 
the proposed Department of. Labor, and the apr 
propriation of. sufficient funds to thoroughly inves- 
tigate the cause of mine disasters^ so that laws and 
regulations may be recommended and enacted which 
will prevent the terrible maiming and loss of life in 
mines. ,. , 

We pledge the Republican party to the enactment 
of an amendment to the existing eight-hour law for 
government employees and all workers 'syhether 
employed by contractors qr ,sub-cojitractorg, -when 
they are doing work for or on behalf of the United 
States Government. . . 

We pledge the Republican party to the enaict; 
jnent of a law by Congress as far as the federal ju- 
risdiction extends for a general en^ployer-s liability 
fact for injury to body or loss of life of employees. ', 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Submitted by the Wisconsin delegation at the Republi- 
can National Convention in 1912, and rejected by the 

Banking and Currency 

Ij^ ORE dangerous even than the indus- 
^ trial trusts is that subtle, concentrated 
^ power exercised over money and credit, 
K by what is ordinarily called the 
"Money Trust." It can make and un- 
make panics. But of far greater significance is its 
constant, all-pervading influence exerted from day 
to day over the commercial life of the nation in 
times of prosperity and of adversity alike. Through 
control of capital it dominates practically all im- 
portant business. Without its consent few large, 
enterprises, public or private, can be carried to suc- 
cess. Against its opposition the strongest struggle 
is vain. To it, great corporations, cities, states, and 
even the nation must pay tribute in order to obtain 
needed loans. Yet this dominance of the few is 
not due to their own wealth, vast as that wealth is. 
In other days, the power of the money lender arose 
from the vices or weakness of the borrower. But 
the despotic power of the money trust rests rather 
upon the virtues, — the thrift and virility, — of a great 
people. We are subjugated by means of our own 
savings, for the money trust controls the banks and 
the life insurance companies, reservoirs into which 
the savings of the nation naturally drain. The 
money trust controls likewise the avenues through 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 389 

which these savings are invested so as to become 
remunerative. Therefore the enterprise and initia- 
tive of our people, qualities which ordinarily eman- 
cipate men, increase our dependence, since each 
new demand for capital enhances the power of the 
few who control it. 

The resources of our national banks designed for 
the protection of depositors, are now permitted, un- 
der cunningly devised provisions of our patch-work 
currency system, to be transferred and re-trans- 
ferred, until finally placed in speculative banks con- 
trolled by the money trust, and used to promote its 
own selfish interests and augment its power. 

Under our present currency system the people's 
bank deposits are forwarded to the reserve city 
banks to help finance the trusts, destroy independ- 
ent producers, promote speculative markets, and 
foist inflated securities on the public. 

Panics which the money power itself has created 
are used to force government to come to its aid 
and competitors to give up their property. The 
vice of the system lies in the privilege of using the 
money and credit of the people for speculation, thus 
depriving legitimate business of support. This vice 
is now admitted by the money power itself, but the 
legislation proposed, however sound in certain re- 
spects, carried in its "jokers" the intent to deceive 
the people. Pretending to offer support to com- 
merce, it creates preferences for speculation that 
lead to inflation and rising prices instead of elasti- 
city and stable prices. Realizing that the people's 
only means of effective control is power to revoke 
the charter, they create a vested right for fifty years 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

390 La Follette'3 Political Philosophy 

with a semblance of power of revision by Congress 
pjice in»terj years. On the pretext that this is merely 
a business * question, they strive to prevent the 
people from putting their candidates on record re- 
garding it. 

We are opposed to the so-called Aldrich Cur- 
rency plan/ We pledge our candidate that under 
no circumstances shall the federal government come 
to the aid of high finance, but shall support those 
banks that extend a genuine preference to strictly 
conimercial, as against speculative, loans and to 
the. millions of real producers who depend on those 
banks. We favor a carefully worked out and scien- 
tific emergency circulation under control of the 
government, backed by proper reserve, issued only 
against commercial paper that represents actual 
transactions, and adopted only after the people have 
thoroughly discussed and intelligently approved of 
thoroughly discussed and intelligently approved of it. 

To free the country from this thralldom all the 
powers of the nation and of the state should be in- 
voked. Means must be devised for diverting from 
the money trust the millions of savings which flow 
freely from city and farm to its banks and insur- 
ance companies. The people should be enabled to 
control the banks in which their own money is de- 

Federal Trade Commission 

. In the enforcement and administration of federal 
laws designed to curb and control the powerful 
special interests of the country there is much that 
may be committed to a Federal Trade Commission, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 391 

thus placing in the hands of an administrative board 
responsible to Congress many of the functions now 
exercised by the courts, promoting promptness in 
the administration of law and avoiding delays and 
technicalities incident to court procedure. 

Among the matters which should be handled by 
such a board is the determination of the differences 
in the cost of production at home and abroad for 
the purpose of protective tariff legislation; an in- 
vestigation into the character of great combinations 
of capital and the trusts of the country; a deter- 
mination of the facts which may be declared by law 
to be a violation of the anti-trust laws; enforcing 
the laws which may be passed with reference to 
the reasonable use of patents, and to co-operate 
with the proposed Department of Labor in enforc- 
ing regulations for t^ health, safety arid hours of 
labor of the employees of protected manufacturers ; 
requiring a uniform system of accounting and cost- 
keeping for monopolistic protected industries and 
combinations, and such other powers as may be 
conferred from time to time by other laws of Con- 
gress. We believe that all of these functions, some 
of which are now performed ineffectively by sep- 
arate agencies of government and by the courts, 
may be brought together in a single organization, 
able to cope with the combined power of special 
privilege. Such commission should be composed 
of men peculiarly qualified for the discharge of such 
duties and should be drawn from the various walks 
of life and supplied with an adequate staff of ex- 
perts, accountants and engineers, to enable it to 
properly discharge the duties conferred upon it. In 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

392 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

subsequent planks of this platform, dealing with 
the subjects of tariff, trusts and patents, more spe- 
cific suggestion is made of the duties which appro- 
priately may be conferred upon such commission. 
We pledge the establishment of such commission, 
the members to be appointed by the President and 
subject to recall by concurrent resolution of Con- 

The Tariff 
The tariflf has been instrumental in building up 
American industry, but it has been seized upon by 
powerful interests to take advantage of consumers 
and wage-earners. We favor a continuation of the 
protective policy for the benefit of the producing 
classes, but demand that the tariff schedules be re- 
duced to the ascertained difference in the labor in 
this country and abroad, and so adjusted as to as- 
sure its benefit to labor and not to protect ineffici- 
ent management nor place a premium on the further 
exhaustion of our limited natural resources. The 
investigation of these facts and the revision of 
schedules should be made by the proposed Federal 
Trade Commission, subject to the action of Con- 
gress, but such schedules as are generally recog- 
nized to be excessive shall be immediately reduced. 


Inventions should be fully developed and utilized 
for the public benefit under reasonable regulation 
by the proposed Federal Trade Commission. We 
pledge the enactment of a patent law which will 
protect the inventor as well as the public, and which 
cannot be used against the public welfare in the in- 
terest of injurious monopolies. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 393 

Trusts and Monopolies 

The special interests, the railroads, the harvester 
trust, the United States steel trust, and all indus- 
trial combinations are planning to secure some ac- 
tion by the government which will legalize their 
proceedings and sanction their fictitious capitaliza- 
tion. Already there has been one powerfully or- 
ganized attempt in Congress to enact legislation 
approving all railroad combinations heretofore per- 
fected in violation of law, and validate all the wa- 
tered stocks and bonds with which corporate greed 
has sought to burden the commerce of the country. 
The situation is critical. It may be expected from 
the attitude of the Supreme Court, as shown in the 
Standard Oil and Tobacco Trust cases, that any 
act on the part of the executive or legislative branch 
of government giving countenance to these unlaw- 
ful combinations will be construed as an approval 
ot the thousands of millions of watered stocks and 
bonds issued, and will fasten upon the people for 
all time the speculative capitalization of public serv- 
ice and industrial combinations. The time is at 
hand to declare for a statute that shall make it ever- 
lastingly impossible for any president, or any con- 
gress, or any court, to legalize spurious capitaliza- 
tion as a basis of extortionate prices, and we pledge 
the Republican party to the enactment of such a law. 
By the enactment of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law, in 
1890, the American people declared their belief that 
monopoly is intolerable, and their determination that 
competition, the natural law in trade, should be main- 
tained in business. The will of the people embodied in 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

394 L^ FoUette's Political Philosophy 

this law, has been frustrated because the administra- 
tions charged with the responsibility failed to enforce 
the law. But the wisdom of that law has been con- 
firmed by the bitter experience of recent years. 
Within the last dozen years trusts have been organ- 
ized in nearly every branch of industry. Competi- 
tors have been ruthlessly crushed, extortionate 
prices have been exacted from consumers, business 
development has been arrested, invention stifled, and 
the door of opportunity has been closed except to 
large aggregations of capital. In the few cases 
where consolidation resulted in great efficiency, 
greedy monopoly has retained all its fruits. The 
public has not received any of the resultant econ- 
omies and benefits of combination which have been 
promised so profusely. But ordinarily, the com- 
binations have demonstrated merely that the hand 
of monopoly is deadening, and that business may 
as easily become too large to be efficient, as remain 
too small. 

In order to restore and preserve competition, as 
the people have willed, new and adequate legal ma- 
chinery must be provided. The present law is un- 
certain of application, since the Standard Oil and 
Tobacco cases have decided that only unreasonable 
restraints of trade are prohibited, and later pro- 
ceedings in those cases have shown that the present 
law is impotent to destroy monopoly. Legitimate 
business halts, because the law-abiding merchant 
and manufacturer doubts what he may legally do. 
Law breaking monopoly flourishes, because this 
same uncertainty increases the difficulty of enforc- 
ing the statute and making it secure in wrong-doing. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 395 

Supplemental legislation should be enacted to re- 
move this uncertainty by specifying and prohibit- 
ing methods, practices and conditions which ex- 
perience has shown to be harmful. Supplemental 
legislation should be enacted to facilitate the en- 
forcement of the law, by imposing upon those who 
combine to restrain trade (and particularly upon 
those who combine to control more than thirty per 
cent, in any branch of business) the burden of prov- 
ing that their action has been consistent with the 
public welfare. Supplemental legislation should 
also be enacted by which proceedings for the disso- 
lution of trusts shall become effective to restore 
competition. To this end courts should be empow- 
ered to prevent any person from owning shares in 
more than one of the companies into which a trust 
has been divided by decree. 

The control of limited sources of raw material, 
like coal, iron, ore, and copper should be broken up 
and these resources opened to all manufacturers on 
equal terms. And to afford an actual remedy for 
injuries suffered by innocent competitors and con- 
sumers, decrees obtained in such suits instituted 
by the government should be made to inure to their 
benefit, and they should be permitted to seek in 
such suits, damages for wrongs done and protec- 
tion against future abuse of power so illegally ac- 
quired. The proposed trade commission should 
have power to condemn all contracts, agreements, 
and practices found to be discriminatory and op- 
pressive, and to compel the substitution of such as 
are found to be reasonable. It should enforce pro- 
hibition of criminal practices which should be spe- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

396 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

cifically defined by law. We denounce that inter- 
pretation of the anti-trust law which uses it to sup- 
press the unions and co-operative efforts of wage» 
earners and farmers in protecting their labor against 
moneyed monopolies and we pledge a revision of 
the Jaw making such construction impossible. 


We pledge the Republican party to the enactment 
of a law to prohibit the issuance of injunctions in 
cases arising out of labor disputes, when such in- 
junctions would not apply where no labor disputes 
existed, and providing that in no case shall an in- 
junction be issued when there exists a remedy by 
the ordinary process of law, and which act shall 
provide that in the procedure for contempt of court 
the party cited for contempt shall be entitled to a 
trial by jury, except when such contempt was com- 
mitted in the actual presence of the court or so near 
thereto as to interfere with the proper administra- 
tion of justice. 

Department of Labor 
We pledge the enactment of a law creating a 
separate Department of Labor with a secretary at 
its head having a seat in the President's cabinet. 
We pledge ourselves to employ all the powers of 
the federal government, including the power over 
interstate commerce and internal revenue taxation, 
in order that the benefits intended for American 
labor from tariff protection shall actually reach the 
laborer. To this end we favor federal legislation 
providing for workmen's compensation for accident, 
protection of women and child labor, safety and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 397 

sanitation in work places and reasonable hours of 
labor according to standards to be fixed and enforced 
by the Department of Labor. 


We favor the strengthening of the various agen- 
cies of the government relating to pure foods, quar- 
antine and health, and their union into a single 
United States Health Service not subordinated to 
any other interest, commercial or financial, but 
devoted to co-operation with the health activities 
of the various states and cities of the nation, and to 
such efforts as are consistent with reasonable per- 
sonal liberty, looking to the elimination of unneces- 
sary disease and to the lengthening of human life. 


We pledge the preservation of the mines and 
water powers in this country to the whole people 
and particularly the beneficial control by the gov- 
ernment of our coal supply whether in public or 
private possession. We pledge an appropriation for 
the further exploration for phosphate beds, to be 
taken over and operated by the government. We 
pledge the increase of the forest domain and the 
extension of scientific forest development. We 
pledge a thorough investigation into living condi- 
tions and especially into the conditions of rural life, 
and legislation to encourage rural co-operation and 
credit, land purchase by actual settlers, with the 
aid of long-time favorable government loans, the 
increase of rural education, and to prevent the 
growth of monopoly and monopoly values in land, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

398 La Follctte's Political Philosophy 

all looking to the encouragement of the- tiller of the 
soil and to the reduction of the cost of living. 


Alaska contains untold wealth in coal, lumber, 
copper, and other natural resources, for the upbuild- 
ing of industry and commerce and for the conquest 
of the markets of the Orient and South America. 
The government still has it in its power to save this 
vast storehouse of supplies from the interests which 
have monopolized the natural resources of the na- 
tion. Before the monopoly of the anthracite coal of 
Pennsylvania in the days of free competition, that 
coal sold at from $2.56 to $3.00 a ton at the sea- 
board. Independent producers were destroyed by 
discriminations and rebates and the oppressive 
methods exercised by monopoly of transportation. 
Today, 96 per cent, of the anthracite coal mines are 
owned and controlled by great railroads. The coal 
costs at the mouth of the mine, $1.84 per ton, and 
sells at the Atlantic seaboard at $6.00 to $7.00 per 

To preserve Alaska for all the people, to develop 
its untouched resources, we should adopt the plan 
so successfully carried through in Panama, where 
the government has built and now maintains a rail- 
way and Atlantic steamship line. We should util- 
ize the Panama Commission, a highly trained, effici- 
ent body of men, which has mastered almost every 
conceivable engineering emergency, to build gov- 
ernment owned and operated railways, terminals, 
docks, harbors, and to operate coal mines to the 
end that the last remaining patrimony of the nation 
shall forever be free from the control of monopoly. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 399 

We should own and operate a government line of 
steamships, running from Alaska by way of Pacific 
ports through the Panama Canal to New York, thus 
relieving the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard from the 
oppression of transcontinental lines. And we favor 
the immediate enactment of such legislation as will 
preserve this remaining heritage of the nation, and 
develop it for the benefit of all the people. 

Panama Canal 

The construction of the Panama Canal was de- 
signed to give the public the benefit of water com- 
petition as a protection against excessive transcon- 
tinental railway rates. The American people as- 
sumed the enormous burden required for the great- 
est of all engineering projects at a total cost, with 
purchase of treaty rights, of $375,000,000. Al- 
ready the interests are organized to secure the ex- 
clusive benefits to flow from the construction of the 
Panama Canal. In order to preserve their present 
high railway rates, they seek to make the water rate 
by the canal expensive by imposing a heavy tax 
upon domestic commerce through the canal. These 
interests must be made to keep their powerful hands 
off this canal and the steamship lines as well. The 
people have paid for its construction, as they have 
paid for improving the rivers and harbors, and 
should resist now any further attempt on the part 
of the railroads to rob the public of all advantages 
resulting from a reduced rate by water. 

We favor such legislation as will insure the do- 
mestic commerce of this country, when carried in 
American ships, passage through the Panama Canal 
free of all tolls. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

400 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Interstate Commerce 
The life of the nation is close-woven with the 
means of transportation upon which communities 
must depend in trade and commerce. The railways, 
which are clearly defined by law to be public serv- 
ants, have become more powerful than their cre- 
ators. Two thousand independent competing com- 
panies have merged into a half dozen groups con- 
trolled by a handful of men. They have issued bil- 
lions of securities that represent no investment by 
their owners. Thousands of millions have wrong- 
fully been extorted from consumers and invested in 
permanent improvements and extensions, and there- 
upon capitalized and made an excuse for still greater 
extortions. The gross railway earnings of the 
country have reached the enormous total of more 
than two billion eight hundred million dollars an- 
nually. This transportation tax is mainly levied 
upon the necessaries of life. Railway rates and 
charges are not adjusted to the cost of the service. 
They are fixed by what the traffic will stand. The 
sacrifice and the hardships of the farmer and the 
v;orker, because of this unchecked power to collect 
such tribute as the masters of transportation dictate 
will never be known. No effective regulation of 
railways is possible until we know the cost of serv- 
ice, and the cost of service depends upon the value 
of the property used in the business, the cost of 
maintaining the property, and the cost of operation. 
We favor the reasonable valuation of the physical 
properties of interstate railroad, telegraph, tele- 
phone and other public utility companies, justly in- 
ventoried and determined upon a sound economic 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1912 401 

basis, distinguishing actual values from monopoly 
\alues, derived from violations of law, and making 
such discriminating values, so ascertained, the base 
line for determining rates. With such a valuation 
the country would know how much of the total 
value of railway property represented by the eigh- 
teen billions of stocks and bonds issued against that 
property was contributed by those who own the 
railroads, and how much by the people themselves, 
in excessive rates. The Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission is wholly unable to deal with the problem 
under existing law. It can at present do no more than 
check some of the most flagrant abuses. We should 
recognize the magnitude of the undertaking to con- 
trol and regulate interstate commerce. We favor 
such amendment and revision of existing law as 
shall provide for a nation wide supervision of rail- 
way transportation and services by the division of 
the country into districts, in each of which a subsid- 
iary commission should be established to regulate 
and control the railways within its jurisdiction, re- 
taining the present interstate commerce commission 
to which appeals should lie from the orders of the 
subsidiary commissions. Only by such comprehen- 
sive control can the shippers and consumers of the 
country be assured adequate protection. 

Joint Control of Production and Transportation 

Common ownership, operation or control of mines 
or manufactories and public railroads, is inseparable 
from discrimination and resulting extortions. We 
oppose all combinations whereby, through joint 
ownership py ^control, the public-service corpora- 

Digitized by VjOQQIC 

402 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

tions engaged in transportation, including pipe lines, 
operate in conjunction with coal, iron ore, oil, or 
other private agencies of production. 

Parcels Post and Express 

We pledge the extension of the postal service to 
include a parcels post, offering, against the service 
of the private express monopoly, a cheap and direct 
means of transportation between the producer and 
the consumer, upon a charge based upon distance 
and the actual cost of operation. 

Good Roads 

Recognizing the demand and necessity for Good 
Roads, we favor state and national aid for their 
construction and maintenance, under a plan which 
will insure its benefits alike to all communities upon 
their own initiative. 

Ship Subsidy 

We are unequivocally opposed to a ship subsidy 
in any form as vicious and indefensible in principle. 
Once entrenched, it would become another corrupt- 
ing influence in our politics. 

War Expenditures 
We are opposed to further extravagance on the 
advice of interested persons only in building battle- 
ships and political navy yards, and favor the es- 
tablishment of an unprejudiced commission to in- 
vestigate and report what is required in the way of 
national defense. 

"Dollar Diplomacy" 

We condemn the "dollar diplomacy" which has 
reduced Pvir state department from its high plane as 

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Platform of 1912 403 

a kindly intermediary of defenseless nations into a 
trading out-post for Wall Street interests, aiming 
to exploit those who would be our friends. 

Income and Inheritance Taxes 

We collect the revenues to maintain our national 
government through taxing consumption. These 
taxes upon the consumer are levied upon articles of 
universal use. They bear most heavily upon the 
poor and those of moderate means. Other coun- 
tries tax incomes and inheritances at a progressive 
rate. The burdens of our people should be equal- 
ized ; wealth should bear its share. 

We favor the adoption of the pending income tax 
amendment to the constitution and thereupon the 
immediate passage of a graduated income tax law, 
and we pledge the enactment of a law taxing inherit- 
ances at a progressive rate. 

Initiative, Referendum and Recall 
Over and above constitutions and statutes, and 
greater than all, is the supreme sovereignty of the 
people. Whenever the initiative, referendum and 
the recall have been adopted by state governments, 
it has stimulated the interest of the citizen in his 
government and awakened a deeper sense of re- 
sponsibility. If it is wise to entrust the people with 
this power in state government, no one can chal- 
lenge the extension of this power to the national 
government. We favor such amendments to the 
federal constitution, and thereupon the enactment 
of such statutes as may be necessary to extend the 
initiative, the referendum and the recall to repre- 
sentatives in Congress and United States senators. 

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404 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

So long as judges are the final makers of statute 
and constitutional law, government by the people 
becomes government by a judicial oligarchy. The 
people are the source of all power, and we favor the 
extension of the recall to the judiciary with safe- 
guards as to lapse of time between the petition and 
the vote. 

Amending the Federal Constitution 

Under a democratic form of government, the 
right to amend and alter their Constitution is in- 
herent in the sovereignty of the people. But the 
methods of amendment prescribed in the Constitu- 
tion, framed when this government was a small 
community with a total population of only four 
million, render it almost impossible of application 
by a nation of ninety million people, divided into 
forty-eight states, with a most complex social and 
industrial life. For more than fifty years an over- 
whelming majority of all the voters have struggled 
i:i vain so to amend the Constitution to insure the 
election of United States Senators by direct vote of 
the people. The public interest demands that this 
should be remedied. 

We favor such amendment to the Constitution as 
will permit a change to be made therein by a ma- 
jority of the votes cast upon a proposed amendment 
in a majority of the states, provided a majority of 
all the votes cast in the country shall be in favor of 
its adoption. An amendment may be initiated by a 
rhajority in Congress, or by ten states acting either 
through the legislators thereof or through a major- 
ity of the electors voting thereon in each state. 

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Platform of 191 2 405 

Presidential Primaries 

In the conflict with privilege now on, much prog- 
ress has already been made through the direct 
primary. We favor the enactment of a federal stat» 
ute providing for the nomination of all candidates 
for President, Vice President, and Representatives 
in Congress, by direct vote of the people at a pri- 
mary election held in all states upon the same day, 
the question of closed or open primaries to be de- 
termined by each state for itself. 

The law should provide that, after the nomination 
of candidates for president and vice president by the 
primary, national platform conventions shall be held 
for each political party recognized by law, the ex- 
penses of attendance by members to be paid from 
the public treasury. 

Corrupt Practices 

We pledge legislation providing for the widest 
publicity and strictest limitation of campaign ex- 
penditures and the detailed publication of all cam- 
paign contributions and expenditures, both as to 
sources and purposes, at frequent intervals before 
primaries and election as well as after. 

Direct Election of Senators 

We pledge support of the pending amendment to 
the Constitution for the election of Senators of the 
United States by direct vote. 

Equal Suffrage 
We favor the extension of the suffrage to women. 

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4o6 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

Legislation and Publicity 

We pledge the enactment of a law requiring all 
congressional committee hearings to be public and 
providing for a permanent public record of all ap- 
pearances and votes at committee meetings and for 
the strictest regulation of the acts of all persons 
employed for pecuniary consideration to oppose or 
promote legislation. 

Legislative Reference Department 

The growth of statute law, resulting from the in- 
creasing economic problems, urgently requires in- 
creased attention to the facilities for the enactment 
of legislation, in the most effective and serviceable 

We pledge the establishment of a non-partisan 
federal legislative reference and drafting bureau. 

Civil Service 

We pledge the extension of the civil service law 
to all branches of the federal service and the aboli- 
tion of useless sinecures, and pledge the strengthen- 
ing and enforcement of the law prohibiting the use 
of federal employees to perpetuate the power of an 
existing administration. Justice and efficiency re- 
quire an extension to all classes of civil service 
employees of the benefits of the provisions of the 
compensation act, and a provision by law for a di- 
rect petition to Congress by civil service employees 
for redress of their grievances. 

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IN 1912 

Published on the eve of the presidential primaries in 
1912 in La Follette's Magazine under the title, "The Re- 
publican Party Faces a Crisis." 

HERE is just one overmastering issue 
in this campaign. What are we going 
to do with the railroads, the trusts and 
the money power? 

The trusts and the money power are 
making their final stand to perpetuate their power. 
The supreme court is with them. They only need 
a president and a congress that will legalize their 
capitalization; that, under the guise of regulation 
by government will fix their prices and wages so as 
to earn a profit on these illegal values; that, under 
the guise of providing elasticity in our currency 
system, will perpetuate their control of the people's 
deposits and savings. 

Let the people not be misled. Let no mistake be 
made at this time, which, under the pretense of 
putting control in the hands of the people will really 
take away from them the chance of ever getting 

I am opposed to anything like federal incorpora- 
tion, federal license, the Aldrich <:urrency scheme 
or any other scheme that looks towards clinching 
the illegal power that has now been concentrated in 
a few hands. I demand a physical valuation that 
will gradually squeeze out the water. I demand a 
clear definition of monopoly and restraints so that 

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4o8 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

business that is not a monopoly shall know where it 
stands under the Sherman law. 

I demand protection of wage-earners and farmers 
in their right to organize and to defend themselves 
by means of unions. 

All other issues are subordinate to this great 
issue. They are methods and means.- As such, I 
demand the initiative, referendum and recall — na- 
tional as well as state — direct primaries, income and 
inheritance taxes, parcels post and government own- 
ership of express companies, government owner- 
ship and operation of Alaskan railroads, coal mines 
and a steamship line, free use of the Panama canal 
to Amierican ships, a national policy of internal 
waterways, a tariff based on the difference in the 
labor costs of production and conditioned on labor 
receiving its benefits. 

Industrial and commercial tyranny destroys in- 
dividual freedom. We may have the privilege of 
the ballot. We may have the form and semblance 
of democracy, but in the end indu^rial servitude 
means political servitude. 

We are building up colossal fortunes, granting 
unlimited power to corporations and consolidating 
and massing together business interests as never 
before in the history of the world — but the people 
are losing control of their own government. Its 
foundations are being sapped and its integrity de- 

The republican party is facing a crisis in its his- 
tory. Two courses are open before it. The rank 
and file of the party, organized to restore human 

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La FoUette's Personal Platform in 1912 409 

rights and preserve free institutions, will tolerate 
no further temporizing with existing conditions. 

The republican party cannot ignore the social in- 
justice, the industrial and commercial oppression 
which everywhere prevails. It can honestly face 
these conditions and with firmness and patience and 
wisdom make an end of them. 

For 20 years I have pursued an uncompromising 
course whose goal was liberty and equality, an even 
chance for every man, woman and child — the right 
to buy, the right to sell our labor and the products 
of our labor in a free, open American market. For 
20 years I have fought for real representative gov- 
ernment, fought to make the will of the people the 
law of the land. I do not now propose to abandon 
that course, and today, as well as at the Chicago 
convention and always, I shall struggle for these 
practical reforms which, as I see it, will achieve so- 
cial justice and human welfare. 

La Follette's Magazine, April, 191 2. 

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Submitted by the Wisconsin delegation at the republi- 
can national convention in 1916, and rejected by the con- 


M E favor a protective tariff the schedule 
h of which shall be based upon the as- 
§ certained difference in the labor in this 
^ country and abroad and which shall be 
so adjusted as to assure its benefit to 
labor and yet not tax the consumer to cover ineffi- 
cient management nor place a premium on the ex- 
haustion of our national resources. The investiga- 
tion of these facts and the revision of these schedules 
should be made by a nonpartisan tariff commission, 
subject to the action of Congress. 


Inventions should be fully developed and util- 
ized for the public benefit under reasonable regula- 
tion by the Federal Trade Commission. We pledge 
the enactment of a patent law which will protect 
the inventor as well as the public, and which can- 
not be used against the public welfare in the interest 
of injurious monopolies. 

Ship Subsidies 

We are unequivocally opposed to ship subsidies. 
We believe the American merchant marine can be 
builded upon a stable basis by equalizing the cost 
of building and the costs of operation. We com- 
mend the enactment of the so-called Seamen's Law 

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Platform of 1916 411 

which gave freedom to seamen and equalized the 
labor costs of ship operation between vessels of 
the United States and foreign countries. We in- 
sist upon the proper enforcement of that act and 
demand legislation to equalize the cost of ship con- 

Social Welfare 

A well nurtured, well developed, loyal citizenship 
is essential to National defense. Without such a 
body of citizens, physical resources are of little 
value. The nation best commands an adequate de- 
fense that most efficiently safeguards against ex- 
ploitation and most adequately provides for the ma- 
terial and physical well-being of its citizens. We 
favor laws to assure the greatest possible safety to 
workmen from industrial accidents and vocational 
diseases, to provide compensation for occupational 
accidents and diseases, to facilitate and encourage 
safe provisions for dependents and for old age, to 
strictly regulate and control the employment of 
women and children, to secure the fullest inquiry 
and publicity with regard to living conditions and 
conditions of employment, to encourage the organi- 
zation of workmen and farmers to co-operate in the 
distribution of products and the elimination of un- 
necessary expense, loss and waste and to promote 
their education, efficiency and general welfare. 


We favor the strengthening of the various 
agencies of the government relating to pure foods, 
quarantine and health, and their union into a single 
United States Health Service not subordinated to 

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412 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

any interest, commercial or financial, but devoted 
to co-operation with the health activities of the va- 
rious states and cities of the nation, and to such 
efforts as are consistent with reasonable personal 
liberty, looking to the elimination of unnecessary 
disease and the lengthening of human life. 

Government Manufacture of Mimitions 
We favor a comprehensive survey by the govern- 
ment of the industries, transportation and other re- 
sources of the United States and such organization 
thereof in times of peace, that in time of war every 
resource of the country shall be available immedi- 
ately for the needs of the government. National 
defense should involve equal sacrifice and there 
should be no private profit from war or preparation 
for war. The private manufacture of munitions of 
war furnishes a direct incentive to war. Govern- 
ment manufacture of munitions by eliminating pri- 
vate profit, does away with the desire for war. We 
pledge the government manufacture of all munitions 
and vessels of war in time of peace, and in time of 
war the requisition and operation by the govern- 
ment of privately owned plants so far as needed. 

Naval Supplies 
We pledge ourselves to the acquisition and opera- 
tion by the government of coal mines and oil wells 
upon the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and in Alaska 
for the supply of the Navy and other governmental 
departments with fuel and oil. 


Great fortunes have been gained through the 
manufacture and sale of munitions of war to belli- 

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Platform of 1916 413 

gerent European countries. We believe that those 
who have directly profited by the European war 
should contribute a portion of such profits to pay 
the increased expenses of our government caused 
by expansion of our military program. We there- 
fore favor paying for such increased expenditures 
by increasing the sur-tax upon incomes, levying a 
tax upon all manufacturers of munitions of war, 
and a graduated Federal Inheritance Tax with rea- 
sonable exemptions. 

Strict Neutrality 

We insist that this country shall maintain strict 
neutrality toward nations engaged in war, thus pre- 
serving friendly relations with all belligerents and 
keeping open the door of opportunity to service in 
promoting just terms of peace. We pledge to so 
amend our neutrality laws as to make it the duty 
of the President, by Executive order, to preserve the 
perfect balance of our neutrality even at the sacri- 
fice of profits to the money power and the manufac- 
turers of arms and ammunitions. 

Conference of Neutral Nations for Peace 
We favor a conference of neutral nations with a 
view to a permanent organization to promote peace, 
prevent wars and aid in the settlement of interna- 
tional questions and the adjustment of differences 
between nations at war. 

International Peace Tribunal 
To compose the differences of nations and to main- 
tain World peace, we favor the creation of an inter- 
national Tribunal to which shall be referred for 

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414 ^^ Follette's Political Philosophy 

final settlement, all issues between nations, and 
upon the establishment of such a Tribunal we favor 
action by our government toward general disarma- 
ment of the nations of the World; and that an 
adequate International Army and Navy be main- 
tained under the command of such Tribunal to en- 
force its decrees. 

Referendum On War 
We favor a law providing for a popular expres- 
sion of opinion by the voters for or against war 
with any foreign government with which the Presi- 
dent shall have severed diplomatic relations. 

Foreign Relations 

We denounce the un-American and undemocratic 
secret diplomacy which continually threatens the 
honor, peace and security of our country, and we 
favor full and immediate publicity in all our rela- 
tions with foreign governments. 

Dollar Diplomacy 

The natural resources of our country have been 
largely monopolized by privileged interests. These 
interests have formed toon^ter combinations in 
every important industry, controlling production and 
prices and creating a vast surplus wealth. This 
excess capital which might otherwise be loaned at 
reduced interest rates to the people from whom it 
has been wrongfully exacted, has been withdrawn 
from the country by the masters of finance and used 
to secure concessions in oil, coal, timber and min- 
eral lands in Mexico, Central and South American 
countries, and loaned in China and elsewhere at 

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Platform of 1916 415 

usurious rates and extortionate cx>mmissions, thus 
enabling these interests to control the natural re- 
sources of the weaker nations and exploit their 
helpless peoples. 

In support of this system in recent years there 
has been an attempt to establish and maintain a 
foreign policy of "Dollar Diplomacy" that would 
make our government the guarantor for the private 
investments of our privileged interests in foreigi^ 

Back of this foreign policy lies in large part the 
demand for a big army and a big navy to enforce 
the collection of the private claims and protect the 
concessions and investments of these interests. 

These same interests own the munition plants 
which fatten off the great government contracts to 
supply the big army and build the big navy main- 
tained by taxing our people. 

We denounce this mercenary system of a de- 
graded foreign policy which has at times reduced 
our State Department from its high service as a 
strong and kindly intermediary of defenseless gov- 
ernments into a trading outpost for those privileged 
interests and concession seekers engaged in exploit- 
ing weaker nations. 

We pledge ourselves against "Dollar Diplomacy" 
and the identification of the government with the 
claims of concession seekers, financiers and privi- 
leged interests operating in weaker countries. 

Woman's Suffrage 
We favor the extension of suffrage to women. 

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4i6 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

Initiative, Referendum and Recall 

Over and above constitutions and statutes and 
greater than all, is the supreme sovereignty of the 
people. Whenever the initiative, referendum and 
the recall have been adopted by state governments, 
it has stimulated the interest of the citizen in his 
government and awakened a deeper sense of respon- 
sibility. If it is wise to entrust the people with this 
power in state government, no one can challenge the 
extension of this power to the national government. 
We favor such amendments to the federal constiti^- 
tion and thereupon the enactment of such statutes 
as may be necessary to extend the initiative, the ref- 
erendum and the recall to representatives in Con- 
gress and United States Senators. 

Legislation and Publicity 

We pledge the enactment of a law requiring all 
congressional committee hearings to be public and 
providing for a permanent public record of all ap- 
pearances and votes at committee meetings and for 
the strictest regulation of the acts of all persons 
employed for pecuniary consideration to oppose or 
promote legislation. 

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The following platform was issued by the La Follette 
Progressive Repu4>lican candidates for seats in the Re- 
publican National Convention in 1920, The primary on 
April 2, 1920, resulted in the election of twenty-four out 
of a possible twenty-six delegate^. The platform was 
submitted at the Republican national convention but was 
rejected by the convention. 

I. We favor the immediate conclusion of peace 
and resumption of trade with all countries. 

II. We are opposed to the League of Nations as 
a standing menace to peace, and v^e denounce the 
Ireaty as a violation of the pledges made to the 
world and a betrayal of the honor of this nation. 
It would make us a party to the enslavement of 
Egypt and India, the rape of China, and the ruthless 
oppression of Ireland. 

III. We would favor a League for Peace, com- 
posed of all the nations of the world, provided they 
were mutually pledged by binding convenants, with 
proper guarantees, to abolish compulsory military 
service, and provided further, that the several na- 
tions mutually bind themselves to a speedy disarm- 
ament, reducing the land and naval forces of each 
nation to the strict requirements of a purely police 
and patrol service. 

IV. We demand the immediate restoration of 
free speech, free press, peaceable assembly, and all 
civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the consti- 
tution. We favor the repeal of the Espionage and 
Sedition Act, and denounce the attempt to write 
such laws into the permanent statutes of the country. 

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4i8 La Follette's Political Philosophy 

V. We oppose all legislation conferring upon the 
Postmaster General, or any other governmental 
agency, the power to deny the mailing privilege to 
any person without judicial hearing, and the right 
of appeal. 

VI. We oppose compulsory military service in 
time of peace. We denounce the use of our soldiers 
in countries with which we are not at war, and we 
favor the speedy reduction of world armaments. 

VII. We oppose the exile of any person law- 
fully admitted to this country, except for crime fixed 
by law, and then only upon trial and conviction by 

VIII. We demand the abolition of injunctions 
in labor disputes. 

IX. We favor laws permitting labor and farm 
organizations, for the purpose of collective bargain- 
ing, in industry, trade and commerce. 

X. We favor such legislation as may be needful 
and helpful in promoting direct co-operation and 
eliminating waste, speculation and excessive profits 
between producer and consumer, as offering some 
measure of relief from the oppressive and intolerable 
economic conditions under which the farmer, the 
wage-earner, and people generally suffer at this 

XI. We favor repeal of the Esch-Cummins rail- 
road law, by which the people are forced to guaran- 
tee railroad profit, while such railroads are privately 
owned, and declare for the ultimate public owner- 
ship of railroads, and the gradual acquisition of 
stock yard terminals, large packing plants, and all 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Platform of 1920 419 

other natural resources, the private ownership of 
which is the basis of private monopoly. 

XII. We demand economy in government, to 
replace the extravaganjce run riot under the present 
administration. The expenses of the present year 
of peace, it has been estimated, will be approxi- 
mately $11,000,000,000, or ten times the annual pre- 
war expense. 

XIII. We condemn the system that permits 
18,000 millionaires to be produced from war-profits 
— one millionaire for every three American soldiers 
killed in France. We demand that taxes be laid 
upon wealth in proportion to ability to pay, in such 
manner as will prevent such tax burdens being 
shifted to the backs of the poor, in higher prices and 
increased cost of living. 

XIV. We denounce the alarming usurpation of 
legislative power, by the federal courts, as subver- 
sive of democracy, and we favor such amendments 
to the constitution, and thereupon, the enactment of 
such statutes as may be necessary, to provide for 
the election of all federal judges, for fixed terms not 
exceeding ten years, by direct vote of the people. 

XV. We favor such amendments to the Consti- 
tution, and thereupon the enactment of such statutes 
as may be necessary to extend the initiative and the 
referendum, to national legislation, and the recall 
to Representatives in Congress and United States 

XVI. We favor paying the soldiers of the late 
war a sufficient sum to make their war wages equal 
to at least civilian pay, and this as a matter of right, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

420 La FoUette's Political Philosophy 

and not as charity, or bonus. We favor other laws 
liberally recognizing the patriotic devotion of our 
soldiers in all our wars. 

XVII. We favor a deep^ waterway from the 
Great Lakes to the sea. The government should, in 
conjunction with Canada, take immediate action to 
give the Northwestern states an outlet to the ocean 
for cargoes, without change in bulk, thus making 
the primary markets on the great lakes equal to 
those of New York. 

XVIII. We favor a platform for the Republican 
party, embracing these principles, and a candidate 
for president whose public record is a guaranty that 
he is in full accord therewith. 

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A CADEMIC freedom, 306. 

•^> Address before ' periodi- 
cal publishers, 346. 

Agrriculture and co-opera- 
tion, 280-8. 

Alaska, 1912 platform pledgre, 
398; savins of its re- 

- sources, 336; grovernment 
ownership of railroads, 408. 

Aldrich; Nelson B., currency 
plan, 8^0, 407; currency 
bill. 170-1. 

Allies, honest dealingr with, 

Alumni, address to Wiscon- 
sin, 296. 

Amending national banking 
law, 166. 

America, making of, 109. 

American soldier, '276-9. 

Amnesty demanded. 248. 

Anti-trust laws, failure of, 

Armed ship bill, 207. 

Asia, white man's injustice 
to. 261. 

Associated Press -retracts er- 
ror, 360. 

Australian ballot, 30, 37, 40, 
61, 66. 

BAKER, Newton D., 248. 
Ballot, at bottom of re- 
form, 27, 127; see Austra- 
lian ballot. 

Bank law, postal, 324. 

Banking and currency, 1912 
platform pledge, 388; 
money and, 166-172. 

Barton, Albert O., 12. 

Bascom, President John, 300- 

Bethlehem Steel Co., 194. 

Big business and govern- 
ment, 148. 164. 

Bosses, political, 32, 376. 

Brewster, Thomas T., 317. 

British empire and league, 

Bryan, W. J., 10. 

^ ANADIAN reciprocity pact. 

Carrier's one duty, 89. 

Catholic Order- of Foresters, 
address to, 364. 

Caucus reform, 53-4, 36-7, 
38-41, 49, 67. 

Cecil, Lord Robert, 232. 

Chicago, tax scandal ex- 
posed, 347; Tribune, mis- 
quotes La Follette, 349. 

Children's Bureau, 140. 

China, 262. 

Citizenship, obligations o^, 

Civil service, 1912 platform 
pledge, 406. 

Coal lands, Indian, 329. 

Coal strike^ 314. 

Coast defense, favored, 192. 

Cpllective bargaining. 1820 
Platform pledge, 418. 

Commerce court opposed, 

Comparative negligence prln^ 
dple established, 140. 

Compromise, La Pollette on, 

Compulsory military service 
opposed, 1920 platform 
pledge, 418. 

Conference system in Con^ 
gress opposed, 19, 157, 

Conference of neutrals for 
peace, 1916 platform pledge, 

Congress, committee system 
criticized, 309; right to de- 
clare war's objects, 235; 
should prescribe foreign 
policies, 204. 

Congressional Record, cost 
of reprints, 377. 

Conscription, draft and, 216. 

Conservation. 325-37: 1912 
platform pledge, 397. 

Constitution, amending of; 
1912 platform pledge, 404: 
treaty and, 254. 

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Cooper law, 28. 

CV)-operation, ^^sriculture 
and, 280-8. 

Co-operation In iparketinff, 
1920 platform c^edse, 418. 

Corporations, poUce power 
bill vetoed, 321. 

Corrupt practices act, 149," 
179; 1912 platform pledge, 

County officers, direct nomi- 
nation bill vetoed, 41-7. 

Couirt of commerce, La Fol- 
lette opposes, 115. 

Courts and labor combina- 
tions, 130. 

Crime of profits guarantee, 

Cummins, A. B., 103. 

Currency, banking and, 888; 
reform, 170. 

T^EEP waterway, 1920 plat* 

^^ form pledge, 420. 

Democracy, 18, 20. 

Denial of mailing rights 
opposed, 1920 platform 
pledge, 418. 

Department of Labor, 1912 
platform pledge, 396. 

Deportation policy, 1920 plat- 
form pledge, 418. 

De TocqueviUe, 15. 

De Valera, E., 261. 

Direct election of senators, 
1912 platform pledge; di- 
rect i)ominatiOns, see Pri- 
mary elections. 

Discrimination, evils of, 90. 

Dog tax discrimination, 64. 

Dollar diplomacy, 1912 plat- 
form pledge, 402; 1916 
pledge, 414. 

Dolliver, Jonathan P., 139. 

Domain, waste of public, 
332; see also Conservation. 

Draft and conscription, 215- 

DuPont Powder Co., 194. 

ECONOMIC problems. 314- 

Economy in government, 
1920 platform pledge, 419. 

Education and public serv- 
ice, 289-313. 

Egypt, justice denied. 266. 

Eight-hour law, 134; for fed- 
eral work, 1908 platform 
pledge, 387. 

Election of federal Judges, 
179; 1920 platform pledge, 

Employers' liability bill, 139- 

140; 1908 platform pledge, 

Equal suffrage, 338-44; 1912 

platform pledge, 405; 1916 

pledge, 415. 
Esch-Cummins law, 98, 100, 
- 114; repeal, 1920 plpitform 

pledge, 418. 
Espionage act, 237-8. 
Evans, Henry Clay, 169. 
Expenditures, contrql of 

campaign, 17; for war, 

1912 platform pledge, 402. 

FARM life of future, 280: 
farmer . nation's \ hope, 
%%%\ farmerp, wi^y osganie. 
Ing, 287; organisatians ex- 
empt from monopoly stat- 
ute, 106. 

Federal Judges and injunc- 
tions, 179-81. 

Federal trade commission, 
410; 1912 platform pledge, 

Fern Dell, "Wisconsin, speech, 

Folk, Joseph, 311. 

Foraker, Josepji B., 160. 

Foreign policies. Congress 
should prescribe, 204: 1916 
platform pledge, 414. 

Frawley, M. S., 298. 

Freedom of speech and press, 
231-KO; 1920 platform 
pledge* 417; academic, 306. 

Fuller, Hugh, 138. 

Furuseth, Andrew, 146, 371. 

GALLINGER, Jacob H., 169. 
Good roads, 1912 plat- 
form pledge, 402; Good 
Roads Association of Wis- 
consin, 286. 

Gore, Thomas P., 221. 

Government control vital, 86,- 
94; of raw- mate'rials, 123. 

Government owneVship, 72- 
101, 124; 1920 platform 
pledge, 418. 

Granger lieglslation in Wis- 
consin, 76; 82, 183. 

Great Britain, territorial 
gains from war, 265. 

HALL, A, R., 28; address at 
funeral, 360. 
Health, 1912 platform pledge, 

397; 1916 pledge, 411. 
High school, address to Eau 

Claire, Wis., 298. 
Holmes, Fred L., 12. 
Holy Alliance, 261. 

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Honesty in politics, L*a Fol- 

lette on, 59. 
Howard University, address 

to law class, 362. 
Huber, Henry A., 246. 

ILLINOIS, railway laws, 82. 

Immediate peace, 1920 plat- 
form pledgre, 417. 

Income and inheritance taxes, 
1912 platform pledge, 403. 

India, 262. 

Indian coal lands, 329. 

Inheritance tax, federal, 413. 

Initiative, referendum, recall, 
173-178; 1912 platform 
pledgre, 403; 1916 pledge, 
416; 1920 pledge, 419. 

Injunctions, abolition, 1908 
platform pledge, 386; 1912 
pledge, 396; 1920 pledge, 
418; federal Judges and, 

Insurance (life) legislation, 

Interlocking of directorates, 

International relations, 270- 

Interstate commerce com- 
mission, 86, 88, 9^-7; 1908 
platform pledge, 381; 1912 
pledge, 400. 

Iowa, railway laws, 82, 85. 

Ireland, martyred, 274. 

JOINT control of production 
*-* and transportation, 1912 

platform pledge, 401. 
"Jokers," in legislation, 159. 
Judiciary, 179; judicial oli- 
garchy, 180; election of 
federal Judges, 179, 419. 

KANE, Acting Commission- 
er, 171. 
Kenyon, William S., 375. 
King, Wlllard L, 375. 
King, William H., 120. 
Kolchak, Admiral, 272. 
Kosciuszko, 261. 
Kossuth, 261. 

LABOR and its rights, 129- 
Labor articles in treaty, 252. 
Labor combinations, courts 

and, 130. 
Labor department. 1908 plat- 
form pledge, 387. 
La Follette, Robert M., 
Acceptance of gubernato- 
rial nomination, 154-7. 
Address at St. Louis expo- 
sition, 366. 

Address at funeral of A. 

R. Hall, 360. 
Address before i>eriodicaJ 

publishers, 345. 
Aids highway legislation, 

Debate with Senator King, 

Disregards persobal abuse, 

Elected U. S. Senator, 184. 
Foreigrn culture, views on, 

Influence of John Bascom, 

Interview on government 

ownership, 93. 
Magazine, salutatory, 333. 
Misquoted by press, 349. 
Peace resolution, 231-5. 
Personal platform in 1912, 

Pioneer in conservation 

movement, 329; in pro* 

gressive movement, 10- 

Platform of 1908, 380; of 

1912, 388; 1912 personal 

platform, 407; of 1916, 

410; of 1&20, 417. 
Policy when misrepresent- 
ed, 377. 
Replies to war critics, 236. 
St. Paul speech, 349. 
Vetoes county officers' pri- 
mary election bill, 41-7. 
Vetoes police power bill, 

Voting record on war 

measures, 246-8. 
Water power control 

championed, 336. 
La Follette, Mrs, Robert M., 
•*Marching in a Suffrage 
Parade," 342. 
League of Nations, 251-69; 
and British empire, 262; 
opposed, 1920 platform 
pledge, 417. 
League for peace, 1920 plat- 
form pledge, 417. 
Legislation, private control 
of, 168; and publicity, 1912 
platform pledge, 406; 1916 
pledge, 416. 
Legislative reference depart- 
ment, 1912 platform pledge, 
Lewis primary bill, 29. 
Life insurance legislation, 

Lincoln, Abraham, 155; on 
subjugation of weaker 
peoples, 264-5. 

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Iiiterary Dlgrest, misquotes 
La Follette. 350. 

Lobby, legrislatlve, 148. 

Louisiana Purciiase exposi- 
tion, address at, 366. 

Mc ABOO. W. O.. 99. 
McCormick, Medill, 102. 

McCumblBr, Porter J., 228. 

Maerazlne, La Follette's sa- 
lutatory, 353. 

Magrazine, mission of, 353; 
surrender of. 355. 

McOovern, F. E., vetoes suf- 
fragre, 339. 

Machine, political, 33, 43, 53, 
59. 376. 

Meaningr of war, 200. 

Mexico and financial imperi- 
alism, 195. 

Miles. Nelson A., 191. 

Militia, place of, 275. 

Militarism. 190-9. 

Military service, compulsory, 
opposed, platform pledgee, 

Milwaukee. traction grrab 
exposed, 346; Sentinel. 377. 

Miners, strike, 314. 

Mines, Bureau of. 1908 plat- 
form pledge, 387. 

Minnesota, railways laws, 
82, 85. 

Money and bankingr. 166-72; 
see also Banking. 

Monopoly and people, 112; 
and radicalism. 126; cause 
of high prices, 124, 165; 
strikes and, 125; and 
trusts, 104-28; statute ex- 
empts farm organizations, 

Munitions, government man- 
ufacture of, 1916 platform 
pledge, 412. 

NAVAL appropriations, 192: 
supplies, 1916 platform 
pledge. 412. 

Neutrals, rights of, 272. 

Neutral nations. La Fol- 
lette's resolution for con- 
ference, 200, 239; appeal 
for, 202. 

Neutrality, true course of, 
213, 272; 1916 platform 
pledge, 413. 

New Haven railroad speech, 

New Jersey, Men's Equal 
Suffrage League, 344. 

Newspaper, the modern, 345. 

New York Evening Post, edi- 
torial on La Follette, 351; 

Times, misquotes La Fol- 
lette, 350. 

Nominations, direct, see Pri- 
mary elections. 

Non- Partisan leagrue, 117, 
287; address before at St. 
Paul, 349. 

OREGON, People's party 
fate, 93. 

PACKERS, 153. 
Panama canal, 1912 plat- 
form pledge, 399. 

Parcel post and express, 
1912 platform pledge, 402. 

Parties, political, 13-17, 21-5; 
loyalty to, 311. 

Patents, 1912 platform 
pledge, 392; 1916 pledge, 

Patriotism, and party loy- 
alty. 311. 

Patrons of Husbandry, 183. 

Peace resolution. La Fol- 
lette's. 231-5. 

Peace tribunal, 1916 plat- 
form pledge, 413. 

Penrose. Boies, 370. 

People, and private monop- 
oly), 112; retain right to 
control government, 237; 
sovereign power of, 213. 

Philadelphia, franchise-grab- 
bing exposed, 346. 

Philipp, Emanuel L., 306. 

Placing the responsibility, 

Platform of 1908, 380-7; of 
1912, 388-406; La Follette's 
personal platform In 1912, 
407-9; of 1916, 410-416; of 
1920. 417-20. 

Platform pledges, 18, 21-25, 
45, 58, 380-420. 

Police power, veto of cor- 
poration's, 321. 

Political machine, see Ma- 

Postal bank law, 324; sav- 
ings banks, 168. 

Potter law, 77. 

Preparedness should be for 
defense, 190. 

Presidential primaries, 1912 
platform pledge, 405. 

Press, and public, 345-59; 
how controlled, 347; how 
Russianized, 352; subsi- 
dized, 348. 

Price control, 106; prices, 
monopoly cause of high, 
124, 165: flxlnig by govern- 
ment, 121. 

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Primary electlon»r 19, 27, 29- 
31. 34, 37, 41-5, 48, 55-6, 
155. 175; Lewis bill, 29; 
primary as citiaeti'^s rigrht, 
36; presidential, 1912 plat- 
form pledgre, 405; bill ap- 
plying to county officers 
vetoed, 41-7. 

Profits, gruarantee of, 112. 

Profiteering, war taxes and, 
220-30; profiteers should 
pay war costs, 228. 

Progressive movement, 182- 
9; principles of, 1920 plat- 
form pledge, 420. 

Progressive Republican plat- 
forms, 380, 388. 407, 410, 

Property rights, 179. 

Public opinion, 356. 

Public rights in water pow- 
ers, 325. 

Public service, 289-313. 

Publicity, spoils corpora- 
tion's game, 80; of cam- 
paign contributions, 1908 
platform pledge, 385. 

Pulitzer case, 352. 

RADICALISM, monopoly 
and, 126. 

Railroads, eight-hour law 
for, 134; make fortunes out 
of war, 226; private opera- 
tion a failure, 112; regu- 
lation of and government 
ownership, 72-101, 124, 418; 
W^Isconsin bill, 97; Wiscon- 
sin commission, 19, 72, 74. 

Rate-making, valuation as 
basis, 95. 

Rates of telephone compa- 
nies, 1908 platform pledge, 
386; and wages, 93. 

Rebates, 70. 

Recall, 173-8. 

Referendum, 173; on war, 
1916 platform pledge, 414. 

Reformer, the, 25-6. 

Repeal of espionage act, 
1920 platform pledge, 417. 

Representative government, 
13-26, 44, 175. 

Republican party, future of, 

Resolution for conference of 
neutral nations, 200. 

Restraint of trade -criminal, 

Roads. Wisconsin farmers' 
need, 285. 

Roe, Gilbert E., 351. 

Roosevelt. Theodore, ac- 
knowledges La Pollette's 
progresslvlsm, 10; anti- 

trust prosecutions, 384; 
conservation policy, 334. 

Ross, Gdward A., on Russia. 

Rural economics needs at- 
tention, 285. 

Russia, recognition of re- 
fused, 271; in upheaval. 

SALARIES of members of 
Congress, 377. 

"Sanctified Crime," editorial, 

School, district, 289-90. 

Seamen's act, 141-6. 

Second choice voting, 34-6. 

Senate, democratizing the, 
308; vacant seats predict- 
ed, 378. 

Shantung, 262. 

Shaw, Dr. Anna, 344. 

Sherman anti-trust law, 109, 
130, 153. 385, 393, 408. 

Ship subsidy, opposed, 324; 
1908 platform pledge 
against, 386; 1912 pledge, 
402; 1916 pledge, .410. 

Siberia, illegal war in, 271. 

Smith, Adam, Wealth of Na- 
tions quoted, 358. 

Smith case, 352. 

Social welfare, 1916 platform 
pledge, 411. 

Soldiers, Americans should 
back up, 276-8; compensa- 
tion for, 1920 platform 
pledge, 419. 

Standard Oil, monopoly^, 356; 
trust cases. 115, 393. 

Steel trust, 121-2. 

St. Louis, boodle aldermen 
exposed, 347. 

St. Paul speech, 349. 

Strikes and monopoly, 125. 

Suffrage, equal. 338-44; 1916 
platform pledge, 415. 

TARIFF, 160-5; commis- 
sion, 166; farmer and, 
163; industries over-pro- 
tected, 162; 1908 platform 
pledge. 382: 1912 pledge, 
392; 1916 pledge, 410. 

Taxation, 19, 61-71, 155; eva- 
sion of, 33; ad valorem 
system, 68, 78; railway, 
63, 68-71; of war profits, 
226; 1916 platform pledge, 
412; 1920 pledge, 419; Wis- 
consin commission, 67. 

T'avlor system. 1 31. 

Tobacco cases, 115, 393. 

Trade commission, federal, 
390-2, 410. 

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Trainmen, working hours 

limited, 138-9. 
Treaty, and constitution, 

254; facts withheld, 233; 

labor betrayed in, 252; and 

leagrue of nations, 251-69; 

reservations by La Fol- 

lette, 269; sigrniflcance of, 

268; terms of, 266. 
Trusts, 288; and monopolies, 

104-28; 1908 platform 

pledge, 383; 1912 pledgre, 


UNIONS' organizations, ex- 
empt from monopoly 
statute, 106. 
University, 294-5; academic 

freedom of state, 305. 
Utilities, control of public, 
19, 94, 124; 1920 platform 
pledge, 418. 

VALUATION as basis In 
rate-making, 95. 

Van Hise, Charles R.. Inau- 
gural address for, 294. 

Versaillel, treaty bietrays 
Egypt, 256; war-maJcers 
of, 251. 

Veto of police power bill by, 
La Follette, 321; of suf- 
frage bill by McOovem, 

Vilas, William F., 169. 

Voting, second choice, 34-6. 

WAGES and rates, 93. 
War, 200-14, results of 
■ European, 9; meaning* of, 
200; cruelties of, 241; ex- 
penditures, 1912 platform 
pledge, 402; people opposed 
to America's entrance, 
209; its cost to nation, 217; 
in retrospect, 257; referen- 
dum on, 1916 platform 
pledge, 414; taxes and 
profiteering, 220-30; with 
Germany, 211. 

Washington Post, misquotes 
La Follette, 350. 

Waste of public domain, 332; 
see also Conservation. 

Water powers, control of, 
336; public rights in, 325. 

Weaver, Gen. Erasmus, 191. 

Wilson, Woodrow, 10-11, 141, 
145, 233, 243, 248, 256-7, 
271, 274, 318, 372. 

Wisconsin, adopts direct 
nominations, 34; an agri- 
cultural state, 137; eight- 
hour law, 137; granger 
movement in, 76, 183; leg- 
islature, 27-8, pioneer in 
agricultural advancement, 
282; progressive laws, 183; 
progressive legislation ad- 
mired afar, 369; university 
of, 305; water power pol- 
icy, 325; women to vote, 

Woman's suffrage, 338-44; 
1916 platform pledge, 415. 

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